ROGERS PARK — Albert Turnage, 23, was shot and killed in the early morning hours of his son's sixth birthday, family said.
He had planned to pick up young son Jayden on Feb. 25 from his mother's home in suburban Lisle — where he stays during the week — and then play arcade games, said Katie Cangemi, Turnage's former foster parent.
Turnage had lived with her since 2004 and had just gotten a good job working the second shift at the Georgia Nut Company in Skokie, Cangemi said. He had planned to save up and get his own place.
"All he wanted to do in life was be a positive role model for his son, Jayden," Cangemi said Tuesday.
Ben Woodard discusses the shooting:
But Turnage's life ended when he was gunned down alongside a friend about 4 a.m. Feb. 25 in the 1700 block of West Touhy Avenue. He suffered four gunshot wounds, according to family.
It was the neighborhood's first homicide of 2015.
The friend, a 30-year-old man, was shot in his back, shoulder and arm, police said. No charges have been filed in the case.
Cangemi, 40, said Turnage had come home from work the evening before the shooting and gave her a hug. He said he was going out to a bar with a friend.
She said Turnage had a tough life, bouncing from foster family to foster family, but always worked hard and avoided trouble in the streets.
Turnage was an innocent bystander in the shooting, she said, adding "What I do know: He was not the target."
The two first met when Turnage was 11 and Cangemi was working at his group home. Over the next few years, they stayed in touch.
"I was his mentor," she said.
Then, when Turnage was 14, he was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma, a rare form of soft-tissue cancer. He survived after a summer of chemotherapy, surgery and radiation treatments, Cangemi said, but the relationship with his foster families did not.
"We were already like family," she said, so she opened her doors to him in 2007. "He called me his fairy godmother," she said.
He later graduated from Zion-Benton Township High School.
When he was 17, his son was born, said Stephanie Witom, 25, Jayden's mother.
"He lived for Jayden," she said Tuesday night. "Everything he did was for him."
Jayden's grandmother, Joanne Tumminaro, said she hoped for justice.
"I pray they find the person who took him from us, who took my grandson's daddy," she said. "They took a piece of our souls."
Cangemi and loved ones launched an online fundraiser to collect donations for Jayden's education fund. As of Tuesday afternoon, more than $6,000 had been collected.
A funeral with family and friends was planned for Friday.
"People knew Albert ... and knew his life wasn’t all that easy, but he was doing the best he could," Cangemi said of those giving donations. "They knew how much he loved his child."
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