Man charged in shooting death of NIU senior

November 23, 2011 8:17:43 PM PST
DeKalb police have charged a 19-year-old man from south suburban Markham in the fatal shooting of a Northern Illinois University student.

Senior Steven Agee, 22, was shot multiple times at an off-campus party around 2 a.m. during what witnesses call a large party at an apartment in the 800-block of Edgebrook Drive. Police say Agee was shot in the chest after an argument.

Chaz Thrailkill was arrested around 10 a.m. on Varsity Blvd. on warrants for first-degree murder, aggravated battery with a firearm and aggravated discharge of a firearm. Thrailkill allegedly left the party and returned with a gun. Police say Thrailkill was not an NIU student; he was visiting a friend in DeKalb.

"I just heard some screaming outside and stuff. I was downstairs in my room. I could see the red lights flashing outside and stuff. Yeah, I didn't even look outside. I didn't want to know what was going on outside," said neighbor Brent Trumpy.

Agee was taken in critical condition to Kishwaukee Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The gunman fled the scene. NIU initially sent out an online alert telling students to stay inside. Hours later, another alert indicated there was no imminent threat because the shooting was an isolated incident.

The death is at least the fourth fatal criminal incident involving an NIU student in the last three years. In February 2008, a gunman went on a shooting spree, killing six and injuring 22 others.

University officials were quick to express sorrow and outline campus security measures, but they rejected any notion NIU could have done anything to prevent Agee's death.

"Let me remind you that this incident, number one, did not happen on our campus. It happened off campus. And we have tremendous programs available," said Kathy Buttner, NIU vice president.

"We have our challenges, just like any community does, just like our society as a whole does," DeKalb Police Chief Bill Feithen.

NIU student Chris Pitts and Agee were friends and members of the same fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi. Agee was the chapter president.

"We have been through this once before. I'm asking everyone to stay strong. If anyone knows anything about what happened last night, if you don't want to know your name or anything like that, just call. Call privately," Pitts. "When anyone thinks about Steve they happen to smile. That's the kind of person he was. We are having a hard time right now."

Agee was a sociology major with a promising future that included several job possibilities, his friends said. His parents, who live in Park Forest, Ill., were planning to pick him up from Northern Illinois University Wednesday for the Thanksgiving holiday.

"I can't even describe it. I can't even describe the pain because it hasn't set in. I'm still numb," said Kimberly Agee, mother. "I won't be having my son for the holidays."


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