A 19-year-old St. John’s student and son of a Chicago police officer was killed in a shooting on the city’s South Side early Sunday, just hours before family members said he was scheduled to return to New York City to start his junior year.
Arshell Edward Dennis was sitting with another man in front of his family’s home on West 82nd Street in Chicago’s Wrightwood neighborhood when an unknown man approached them around 12:04 a.m. and opened fire, authorities said, striking Dennis in the chest.
The 20-year-old man sitting with Dennis sustained gunshot wounds to the arm and side of the chest, according to police.
Both men were taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center where Dennis was pronounced dead. The other victim was listed in critical condition, officials said.
Family members said Dennis, who was known as Trey, graduated from Chicago’s Urban Prep Academy in 2014. He was home visiting his mother, who has been sick, the family said, before starting his junior year studying journalism at St. John’s University in Queens.
“Our family is deeply saddened by this tragic and senseless shooting. The loss of our son is stunning and painful,” the Dennis family said in a statement.
“Tragically, we were going to take him to airport today at 3 p.m. to return to school. Now because of this senseless violence, we will be grieving and planning his funeral.”
“Trey was smart, funny and the light of our lives,” they added.
Dennis’ father is a Chicago police officer, CPD confirmed. Police spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi said in a statement that he and Superintendent Eddie Johnson served as patrol officers together in the 6th District.
Johnson spoke with Dennis’s father and “is at a loss for words for the amount of grief the officer and his family are dealing with,” according to Guglielmi, adding that Johnson will visit with the family on Sunday.
“Officer Dennis dedicated his life to make this city safer, and his son Arshell was a good kid, making his parents proud and studying for a promising future as a journalist,” Johnson said in the statement.
“As always, the men and women of the CPD will stop at nothing to find who was responsible and bring a sense of closure and justice to Officer Dennis and all of families affected by violence.
But in order to address the root of this violence, we must change the way the criminal justice system treats the reckless, repeat gun offenders who are causing this violence and send a clear message that when you are involved in gun crimes you will be held accountable,” Johnson added.
“It’s a deep loss,” Dennis’ grandfather said. “It hurts and I wish some of this senseless killing would stop.”
No one is in custody for the shooting and authorities continue to investigate. Dennis was one of 9 people killed in shootings that left at least 30 others wounded across Chicago this past weekend.