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Dad of Slain West Side Teen: 'I Saw Him Take His Last Breath'

By Quinn Ford | July 20, 2013 8:44am

NORTH LAWNDALE — Charlotte Wordlaw buried her 15-year-old son Ed Cooper on Tuesday — the same day police came to her door to deliver some much-needed good news, she said.

"They came here the day I buried my baby and told me they caught him," Wordlaw said of a suspect authorities believe killed her son.

On Thursday, a Cook County judge ordered 16-year-old Dyvell Mallet held without bond after he was charged with first degree murder in connection with Cooper's death.

Cooper was standing with a group of people at the corner of North Lawndale and West Ohio Street near Ryerson Elementary on July 8 when Mallet approached the group with a gun in his hand, prosecutors said.

Mallet began firing at the group, and Cooper was fatally hit in his chest as he tried to run away, prosecutors said.

Cops arrested Mallet July 16 after witnesses identified the teen as the shooter. Mallet allegedly told police he was a member of the Conservative Vice Lords street gang and had orders from a high-ranking member of the gang to shoot a member of a different faction of the gang over a money dispute.

Following the shooting, police said Cooper did not have any gang affiliations, and Cooper's parents said they were told by police their son was not the intended target in the shooting.

Outside their home Thursday morning, Jerome Wordlaw, Cooper's father, described his son's death as "sad" for everyone involved.

"A baby killing another baby. It's sad both their lives had to go like that," he said, adding he believed the 16-year-old will spend most his life in prison if convicted.

Wordlaw said he and his wife heard the shots that killed his son. He said they had just dropped Cooper off so the teen could hang out with his brother and cousin. When they heard the gunfire, they circled back to find their son lying in a vacant lot.

A bullet had hit his chest and "ripped through his heart," Wordlaw said.

"When I ran to the lot, he was lying there dead," he said. "I saw him take his last breath."

Charlotte Wordlaw said Thursday she does not hate the boy who allegedly killed her son but said she will never be able to forgive him.

The mother said the teen who is charged with murdering her son told detectives he did not intend to kill Cooper when he opened fire on the group of teens standing near a corner in the 600 block of North Lawndale Avenue.

Charlotte Wordlaw said she has resolved to be at every court date, even if she has "to sleep at 26th and California" — the site of Cook County criminal court.

"I want to hear what this child has to say," she said. "I want to hear [from] his momma."

Cooper's parents sat on the front stoop of their North Lawndale home Thursday telling stories about their son.

Cooper was a quiet kid who spent most of his time inside his house playing videogames and taking care of his cat, Diamond. He was an honor student at Orr Academy, where he would have entered his junior year this fall, they said.

Charlotte Wordlaw said all that is left of her son now is their memories. She said her son did not deserve to die by the gun.

"When I went to the morgue to identify him, he had his mouth open like he was saying 'Why me?'"