EAST GARFIELD PARK — Charlotte Wordlaw dropped off her 15-year-old son near the playground of Ryerson Elementary School Monday so he could spend time with his cousin and brother.
She said the three had planned to hang out at a nearby music studio.
But as Wordlaw drove home, she heard six gunshots. When she circled back to the playground, she soon found her son, Ed Cooper, lying in a vacant lot across from the playground with a bullet in his chest.
Outside her home Tuesday morning, Wordlaw had tears in her eyes as she described her son as a "straight-A" student who had dreams of becoming a police officer to "clean up the streets."
"He just said he [was] gonna make the community right, but the community killed him," she said.
Cooper was a student at Orr Academy High School, school officials confirmed. Wordlaw said her son was looking forward to turning 16 later this month, so he could finally get his driver's license.
She said Cooper was not the most social kid but liked hanging out with his cousin, whom he admired. Wordlaw said the two boys would "stick together like glue" and said it was Cooper's cousin who held him after he was shot.
Cooper was standing with a group of people in the 600 block of North Lawndale Avenue about 5 p.m. when a gunman approached on foot and opened fire, said neighbors who saw the shooting.
Torrence Shorter, who lives on the block, said he saw a group of kids run through an empty lot across the street from the playground after the shots started.
"That's where he got shot," Shorter said. "He tried to run."
One neighbor said the gunman was wearing a white shirt and picked up something from the ground where Cooper's group was standing before fleeing the scene.
Cooper was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital, where he was pronounced dead just before 6 p.m., according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office.
Neighbors said the shooting was not the first of the summer. On July 4, two men were shot just a block south of where Cooper was gunned down. Although police did not have details available about what may have led to Monday's shooting, some neighbors, like Shorter, point to gang disputes in the area.
"It's sad, and the closer it gets to the school year, the worse it's gonna get," Shorter said, referencing the recent decision by Chicago Public Schools to close Ryerson Elementary and merge it with Laura Ward Elementary.
Wordlaw said she received a call from Mayor Rahm Emanuel expressing his condolences Tuesday morning. Wordlaw said she appreciated the call, but she was "sad" that this is how her child would be known.
"My baby had to die to make the news," she said.
For other mothers who still have their children, Wordlaw had one piece of advice:
"Love your kids," she said. "They take them little, old, it don't matter. They have no remorse.
"Love your kids every day."
Nobody was in custody in connection with the murder as of Tuesday morning. Police said Cooper had no documented gang ties.