Traenez L. Brown Jr. should have been eating barbecue and shooting off bottle rockets on the Fourth of July, but instead, the people who loved him were mourning his loss.
The 15-year-old Cahokia boy was shot to death Monday night in the 10 block of Westwood Drive. Two other victims were critically injured in the shooting.
Brown's mother, Jerreka Beck, said it was family tradition to go to relatives' houses on July Fourth to grill and "pop fireworks."
"He loved bottle rockets," Beck said.
Two teenage suspects surrendered to police Tuesday evening in connection with the shooting. That same night, more than 100 people gathered in Cahokia for a candlelight vigil to remember Brown.
"That’s how much love and support he had," Beck said.
She described her son as confident, determined, outgoing and protective of his family.
"He said as soon as I turn 16 I'm getting a job so I can help you momma," Beck said. "I can't believe they took my baby from me."
Brown played football for the Centreville Tigers. His mother said he had aspirations to become a professional football player.
"He could have done it," Beck said. "When he put his mind to something, he does it. He stays focused on what he’s putting his mind to. Nothing could come between it."
Beck's other children miss their eldest brother, she added.
"My oldest daughter, that’s all she keeps posting on Facebook. They took her best friend away from her," Beck said.
Serenity Memorial was handling funeral arrangements, Beck said.
A GoFundMe to benefit Brown's parents had raised $475 by Wednesday afternoon.
The condition of the other two victims was not immediately available Wednesday morning, though Capt. Dennis Plew with the Cahokia Police Department said Monday that one was in critical but stable condition and the other in critical condition.
The Major Case Squad of Greater St. Louis was investigating the shooting along with the Cahokia Police Department and the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department.