The grieving father of a 15-year-old boy who was killed June 25 in the 800 block of North 15th Street said he is searching for answers about how such a thing could happen and wants justice.
“He was with some friends, and somebody got to shooting. They started to run. He got shot,” said Michael Henderson Sr. of St. Louis.
The victim, Michael Henderson III, was a student at East St. Louis Senior High School who dreamed of becoming a professional athlete. For Henderson Sr., “Lil’ Mikey” was the oldest of his 15 children.
“He was good at football, basketball, wrestling and running.. He always kept a smile on his face,” Henderson said.
“It kills me to have to bury my 15-year-old son.”
The case is being investigated by East St. Louis Police and Illinois State Police. So far, there have been no arrests. and no motive has been established for the teen’s shooting death.
The fatal shooting came two weeks before another 15-year-old was killed in the metro-east. He, along with a 16-year-old and a 21-year-old, were shot Monday night in Madison. The three unidentified victims were rushed to a hospital, where the youngest died. The Major Case Squad is investigating that killing.
Illinois State Police Master Sgt. Jerri Hochmuth said when East St. Louis police arrived on the scene, they found a juvenile who had been shot. He died at an area hospital, Hochmuth said.
Henderson said he was at his son’s side when he passed.
“He was a good kid. I don’t understand why someone would take my baby from me and his family like that,” he said.
Henderson said he was numb and still in disbelief, first at getting the horrific news that his son had been shot and then seeing him die. Henderson said it’s hard to imagine not hearing his son talk to him again or to see him.
“Right now, I don’t know what I am going to do,” he said. “It’s just horrible, really horrible. I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye.”
Henderson said he wants police to work harder to find his son’s killer and bring him to justice. He doesn’t want his son to be just another statistic.
“In (East St. Louis), the rate that murders are solved is very low. The investigators have got to do much better,” Henderson said.
The Belleville News-Democrat reported earlier this year that since 2000, only one in four murders in East St. Louis have been solved.
“These shootings have to stop. Somebody has to get these guns off the street. All you see on the news is 12-, 14-, 15-, 16-year-old kids getting shot and killed. Grown men are giving these babies guns. They can’t get them themselves. They are being sent off to do dumb stuff,” Henderson said.
Henderson said his son was not affiliated with any gangs or hung out with the wrong crowd. He said Michael had his own crew of friends that hung out together. They called themselves “DC” in front of their names, “but, they were not gang members,” Henderson said. He said he didn’t know what DC meant, it was just a nickname.
He said his son didn’t start any problems, but, “As small as he was, he didn’t back down from anybody. He didn’t mess with nobody unless they messed with him.”
Anyone with information about this crime is urged to call East St. Louis police at 482-6800, Illinois State Police at 346-3990, or CrimeStoppers at 1-800-371-8477, the anonymous tip line that pays up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest.