A young queer man was shot in the head while standing outside on the porch of a friend’s home last Saturday in Chicago’s Palmer Square neighborhood.
Suraj Mahadeva, 26, was standing on the porch, near the intersection of N. Albany Avenue and W. Dickens Avenue around 3:25 a.m. when a friend heard the sound of gunshots. One of the bullets struck Mahadeva in the back of the head. He was later pronounced dead at the hospital.
J. Saxon-Maldonado, a friend of Mahadeva’s, said he is torn between believing the crime was a random act of gun violence or an intentional shooting.
“[P]art of me feels like it doesn’t feel random because of the execution-style murder,” Saxon-Maldonado told CBS affiliate WBBM-TV. “The question is who and why, and I am hopeful that we will find that answer so that the family could have some peace.”
He also had a message for the shooter: “If they’re watching, I want them to know that we will find you — and we will get justice.”
Mahadeva, who grew up in Michigan in a Filipino and Sri Lankan household, graduated from Michigan State University in 2018 and moved to Chicago shortly after. His sister, Althea, said he came to Chicago because he felt a strong sense of belonging as a member of the LGBTQ community.
Mahadeva, who held a degree in neuroscience, was working as a medical clinician. He was a strong LGBTQ advocate who loved to dance and volunteered as a swim instructor in his free time.
“His love languages were acts of service and quality time and touch. He gave the best hugs in the whole word,” Althea Mahadeva told Block Club Chicago, an independent news website. “He was so sensitive and such a good listener and such a fierce protector of anyone who he felt needed help. He was there to help them.”
Family and friends held a vigil in Mahadeva’s memory at the Center on Halsted, Chicago’s LGBTQ community center, last Thursday.
“Suraj was a beautiful, brilliant person — always charismatic, effervescent, happy,” J. Saxon-Maldonado said at the vigil. “I want tonight to be solemn, but also joyful — because that’s what he would have wanted.”
Police have not said whether the shot was fired by someone on foot or in a passing vehicle, and have not released any information on the crime or a suspect. No one has been arrested in connection with the shooting.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot is scheduled to give a briefing on public safety later today, in light of the recent rise in violent crime, including shootings, carjackings, and retail thefts. According to Axios, 4,100 people have been shot in Chicago this year, a 69% increase over 2020.
Anyone with additional information about Mahadeva’s shooting is asked to leave an anonymous tip via the Chicago Police Department’s online reporting system at CPDTtip.com.
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