Anquan Palmer’s biggest aspiration in life was to become a musician.
The 16-year-old from East St. Louis loved to rap, dance and create beats, and would often have dance battles with his aunt, said Palmer’s grandmother, Dionne Perry-Dillard.
But that all changed when Palmer was shot and killed about 1:20 a.m. Thursday in the 400 block of 23rd Street in East St. Louis. He was found in a bullet-riddled Ford Mustang, which had been stolen, and police said the 16-year-old had been shot multiple times. No charges have been filed in connection with his death.
Perry-Dillard would prefer to not think about that. She said Palmer was her first grandchild, and he was a huge granny’s boy. She said she was devastated when she found out Palmer was dead.
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“I was distraught; I was lost for words,” Perry-Dillard said. “He truly was trying to do right ... He wanted to be different, to get away and try to do better.”
Palmer loved music since he was 9, she said, and he hoped that music was going to be his way out of East St. Louis.
“He’d always tell me, ‘Gram, I’m gonna make some money and be big some day, and get my momma and I out of here,’” Perry-Dillard said. “He loved his mom; he didn’t want anything bad to happen to his mom. He was so concerned about her.”
As he got older, Palmer’s brother and cousin started helping him book studio time so he could produce some real music. Perry-Dillard said he was always trying to make a little extra cash by cutting the grass or washing the car so he could get back in the studio.
Palmer liked spending time at Perry-Dillard’s house in Fairview Heights, she said, so he could get out of East St. Louis. He’d seem to be on the right track at Perry-Dillard’s house, she said, but once he went back to East St. Louis to be with his mom, he’d fall right back into his old habits.
Although Palmer didn’t do well at school, he was set to go the Lincoln Challenge Academy in Rantoul in January, and hoped to get his high school diploma or G.E.D.
“He was trying to turn his life around,” Perry-Dillard said. “We would always pray together, and we’d talk ... It didn’t matter what it was about, something he may have done wrong or right, but he could come to me about anything. He’d talk to me about how he just wanted to change.”
Perry-Dillard said Palmer did not have a life insurance policy, and his family is struggling to get the money together to pay for his funeral. They have set up a GoFundMe account to help offset costs.