Chicago shooting; Teen killed in Noble Square was 'joy of the school' at Rauner College Prep

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A school community in mourning is remembering the life of a 15-year-old victim of gun violence.

At an impromptu vigil, classmates remembered Caleb Westbrooks as a light that shined bright. They held hands and prayed together, surrounded by balloons, candles and handmade signs marking the site where Westbrooks was shot and killed Tuesday afternoon in Noble Square.

"All day today at Rauner College Prep, everyone has been crying. It's been emotional. He's like our missing piece," said student Ahmani Paskel Dobine.

READ MORE: Chicago shooting in West Town kills boy, 15, police say

"He was literally the school joy. He never had a frown on his face, he was literally always smiling," added student Jayden Strzelczyk.

At Westbrooks' school, mother Mildred Ruiz was waiting to pick up her daughter in person because of the violence.

"I'm out here for the safety of my child," she said. "It's just insane for a mom to think today is the last day I'm gonna see my kid, it's just too much."

Westbrooks was one of five children shot Tuesday. To date this year according to the ABC7 count, there have been at least 15 kids shot, one as young as 11, and four killed.

The head of Noble Charter Network Schools Ellen Metz said Rauner College Prep is in deep mourning.

"It feels dark and heavy in the school right now as students are grappling with this. And I think the violence our city is experiencing right now is absolutely impacting schools," she said.

According to CPD data, last year in Chicago 421 juveniles were shot, up 13% from 2020. Former gang members, now violence interrupters at BUILD Chicago, said even one child is too much. Now BUILD is aiming to add more programming this year.

"When these crisis do occur, we're out immediately in the community trying to ascertain and assist individuals with what they need and meet them where they are," said Milton Davis, BUILD Chicago therapist.

They are even implementing a Community Mobile Mental Health Team to hold mobile therapy sessions in neighborhoods impacted by violence.

Now families in the Rauner College Prep community are working to live with the loss as police investigate.
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