Teen mentored at St. Sabina killed in Chatham shooting

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Thursday, August 25, 2022
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An 18-year-old man who was part of Father Michael Pfleger's Strong Futures program was killed in a shooting in Chatham Tuesday night.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- An 18-year-old man who was part of Father Michael Pfleger's Strong Futures program was killed in a shooting in Chatham Tuesday night.

The mentors at St. Sabina's faith community in Auburn Gresham are supporting each other as they cope with the news of the death. Khalil White-El had just gotten a job at Buddy Bear Car Wash through the Strong Futures program when he was gunned down in an alleyway at 87th and Wabash.

"We have got to remember the loss we all feel. The failure of how it got to this point. And we have got to put these guns down," Father Pfleger said. "Guns cannot be the way we respond when we lose a job or when someone runs a traffic light, when we are mad at the neighbor, when were mad at the spouse. Guns have to be stopped as the first line of offense."

Social media posts suggest the shooting was gang activity. White-El's mentor said his charge lived in dangerous conditions, but with the job, made possible by an employer willing to accept youngsters with criminal records, success was there to be had.

"You know, when I teach I tell the kids you can forget everything I said but just remember this: watch your surroundings. Watch who you are with, watch your circle. Watch the influences, because in the end it can get you," said mentor Joseph Saunders.

The folks at Stronger Futures will not let this tragedy stop their effort to bring hope to many who feel hopeless.

"This is someone that I just know, that I impacted for the greater good, and to lose him to the senselessness is a tragedy," said Kendrea Atkins, employment specialist at Stronger Futures.

"We have to stop that, we have to stop the reality that if somebody is making it, be their cheerleader, not get angry about it," Pfleger said.

Chicago police do not have any one in custody.