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Slain Teen Was Shy, Popular 'Jokester' Whose Brother Was Gunned Down in '93

By Quinn Ford | September 6, 2013 6:54am | Updated on September 6, 2013 4:45pm
 Michael Johnson, 23, and Ray Coleman, 25, have been charged with the murder of 16-year-old Maurice Knowles. Knowles was shot while sitting on his front porch with friends on Labor Day. The teen's family members said Thursday they were relieved to hear the teen's killer had been caught.
Maurice Knowles
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ROSELAND — Edna Knowles, the adopted grandmother of Maurice Knowles, sat on her front porch Thursday, the same porch where her 16-year-old grandson was fatally shot earlier this week.

Knowles, 74, said she had heard Maurice's alleged killer was due in court Thursday afternoon, but she had no plans to go.

She said she had already heard from the gunman's mother.

"He sent word to me to tell me that he was sorry that Maurice died," she said.

On Wednesday evening, Michael Johnson, 23, was charged with the teen's murder. Edna Knowles said she would pray for Johnson but said the apology would not do much.

"There's no apologizing he can do that will bring Maurice back," she said. "I hope he does every day in jail that the judge gives him, every day."

And on Friday, a second man, 25-year-old Ray Coleman of suburban Bellwood, appeared in court on first-degree murder charges and was ordered held without bail.

Witnesses said Coleman was with Johnson when shots rang out. Police arrested Coleman when he visited his parole officer Wednesday, according to court records.

About 5:30 p.m. Monday, Maurice was sitting on his front porch with a group of people when Johnson, nicknamed "Mike Mike," emerged from a gangway with two other men and started shooting, authorities said.

Maurice was hit in the chest, and a 24-year-old was grazed by a bullet, police said.

Edna Knowles said she was inside her kitchen when people ran inside during the shooting. She soon learned Maurice had been shot, but she said he was responsive and talking until the ambulance took him away to the hospital.

"All of us were sure he was gonna be all right," she said.

But Maurice was pronounced dead less than two hours later at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn.

In court Wednesday, prosecutors said witnesses identified Johnson as the shooter. Police went to Johnson's home in the 300 block of West 106th Street, and when a relative of Johnson's gave officers permission to search the home, Johnson suddenly fell through the ceiling from the attic where he was hiding.

Johnson, who was out on bond for a pending gun case, was ordered held on $1.5 million bail set by Cook County Judge Israel Desierto.

Prosecutors said a relative of Knowles had stolen a gun from Johnson.

On Thursday, Edna Knowles sat with Maurice's older sister, Diamone Douglas, and would not elaborate on why Johnson shot up their porch but said they believed the 16-year-old was not the intended target.

They described Maurice as a joy and said he was "always a jokester." Edna Knowles said the teen had just tricked her into thinking she had won thousands dollars with a fake scratch-and-play lottery card.

The memory made Douglas, 19, laugh.

"He came out and said, 'I got Granny with the card,'" Douglas said. "She thought she won $5,000."

Douglas said everyone in the neighborhood knew her brother, even though he was on the quiet side. She said he loved basketball and driving; she said he wanted to buy a Ford truck when he graduated from Corliss High School.

Edna Knowles pointed to pictures of Maurice and said his smile never showed his teeth on account of his braces, and family said the teen loved to dance, even if he was no good at it.

Knowles had an older brother who was also shot and killed, family said. Shawn Knowles was 14 when he was gunned down in 1993 when an older man tried to use him as a human shield.

Neighbor Brian Shine stopped by the Knowles' porch to share his condolences. Shine, too, said he is glad someone was charged in the murder but added that would not bring the teen back.

"I watched that dude grow up, man ... and for him to die like that," he said, lowering his head. "That's bull----, but that's how our people are dying right now."

At least 10 people have been killed in Roseland so far this year, according to DNAinfo Chicago data.

Edna Knowles said the neighborhood's name may need to change.

"Let me tell you something: This is Roseland," she said. "They need to change the name to 'Killville.'"