'Long live Will': 8th grader killed in Chicago expressway shooting grieved by classmates

Tre Ward Image
Wednesday, February 22, 2023
8th grader killed in Chicago expressway shooting grieved by classmates
William L. Smith, an 8th grader at Montessori School of Englewood, was killed in a Chicago expressway shooting on I-57 Sunday night.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Students and faculty honored the memory of a 13-year-old classmate who was among three people killed in a deadly shooting on I-57.

Balloons were released Tuesday at the Montessori School of Englewood, where William Smith was in 8th grade.

Students and staff grieved together while holding a sign that said "Long Live Will," as the school grapples with losing one of their own.

"We know that William is looking down on us, and we're asking you, right now, to just cover and just keep us in your care," a woman prayed.

Class at Montessori School of Englewood just hasn't been the same since Thursday, the last time Smith's 8th grade class saw him alive.

"Everybody's been crying. Everybody's eyes are red. Everybody got their heads down," said his best friend, Darwin Sorrells.

Smith had transferred to the school back in November.

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"We wanted them to come to school, today, because when young teenagers grieve, they need to grieve together," said Rita Nolan, executive director at the Montessori School of Englewood.

School officials said the boy was driving in a car with relatives on I-57 near 111th Street when someone riddled their SUV with bullets Sunday night.

Smith's 19-year-old brother, Nasir Hall, and Hall's 1-year-old daughter, Amara, were killed. Three other people were hurt.

"They didn't deserve to have their lives taken away from them," Sorrells said. "They were innocent people that wanted to enjoy life and grow up."

The shooting ripped a young boy from the lives of his friends and family who are now committed to keeping his legacy alive.

"Long live Will," they said as they released balloons in his memory.

Will's friends said he was looking forward to picture day next month. Police are still searching for the shooter.