NORTH CENTER — A vigil is planned Friday for Jemel Roberson, the security guard fatally shot by suburban police on Sunday, a shooting police described as tragic.
Roberson, 26, a 2010 graduate from Lane Tech High School, was a gifted basketball player and musician, friends and family say.
“When you go to Lane you have 4,400 friends and family. So when something happens to one of us, it happens to all of us,” said Citlali Arroyo said, vigil’s organizer.
The vigil will begin at 7 p.m. Friday. People are asked to meet on the north side of Lane Tech’s stadium at 2601 W. Addison St.
“Lane’s Principal Brian Tennison has been so supportive in this planning, and I truly appreciate that the Lane community is so strong,” Arroyo said. “We hope his mother, Ms. Roberson, sees how much Jemel meant to us.”
Arroyo was in the same homeroom as Roberson when they were in school. When she heard the news, she started reaching out to friends. It was surreal, Arroyo said, to see her friend’s name and photo in the ongoing national coverage of Roberson’s death.
“I follow Shaun King and read Latino Rebels, and there I see him, my friend Jemel,” Arroyo said. “It’s so sad and strange, which is how all of my friends have been feeling. He was literally the nicest person to anyone, ever.”
Roberson was working as an armed security guard at Manny’s Blue Room Bar in suburban Robbins over the weekend. At about 4 a.m. Sunday, a group of drunk men were asked to leave the bar. After being ejected, one of the men came back to the bar armed with a gun and opened fire, witnesses said.
Roberson was able to detain one of the men involved outside but was fatally shot by a police officer from Midlothian, a neighboring suburb, who arrived on the scene.
On Monday, the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office said Roberson, of the 3300 block of West Lexington Street in Chicago, was pronounced dead at 5 a.m. Sunday at Manny’s Blue Room Lounge, 2911 S. Claire Blvd., in Robbins.
Roberson’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit on Monday, according to the Sun-Times.
On Tuesday, the Midlothian police department released a statement on Facebook addressing their officer’s fatal shooting of Roberson.
“Since, we have learned that the subject our Officer shot was in fact security guard, Jemel Roberson,” the statement said. “We intend to issue a new statement in the next couple days but we still are awaiting the completion of the State Police investigation to learn all of the facts of the incident.”
The police statement also described Roberson as “a brave man” and said his shooting was a “tragic incident.”
After his death on Sunday, Katie Fromm-Bogacki, a friend of the Roberson family, created a GoFundMe campaign for Roberson’s family to help pay for burial expenses. As of Tuesday morning, the GoFundMe had raised $88,426.
“What hurts a lot of us the most is that he didn’t need to be a cop to be a good guy,” Arroyo said. “He was able to apprehend the gunman without harming him.”
In his senior year basketball photo for the school yearbook Roberson said he’d like to have “super-strength” as a superpower.
“We have this saying at Lane: Wherever you go. Whatever you do. Remember the honor of Lane,” Arroyo said. “That’s why we’re so mad about his death but so proud of him.”
For the most up to date information on the vigil check out its Facebook page.
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