‘He had promise’: Man killed hours after St. Sabina peace march ‘soared’ in mentoring program


Two years in the past, homeless and out of labor, 23-year-old Emoni Atomah went to St. Sabina on the South Facet searching for assist.

The church enrolled him in a mentoring program, helped him get a spot to dwell on its Auburn Gresham campus and helped him discover a job.

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However Tuesday evening steps from the parish and solely hours after St. Sabina parishioners held their annual peace march in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, Atomah was shot in a church car parking zone within the 1200 block of West 78th Place.

Atomah ran from the gunfire, however was discovered unconscious by law enforcement officials within the passenger seat of a automotive he’d flagged down for assist with gunshot wounds to his chest and stomach.

He was pronounced useless at College of Chicago Medical Middle shortly after.

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On Thursday, church officers say they have been shocked by the act of violence so quickly after the peace march and on the parish’s campus. The world across the church is taken into account “impartial floor” and largely revered as a secure house, St. Sabina’s Rev. Michael Pfleger mentioned.

“Yesterday was Dr. King’s birthday, so we had a march for peace in honor of him — after which at 11:30 at evening any individual’s taking pictures somebody throughout the road from the church,” Pfleger mentioned at a information convention.

“That is ridiculous. It’s horrible,” he mentioned.

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Elijah Maxey Jr., Atomah’s mentor and coach for 2 years with the parish’s Sturdy Futures program, mentioned he was “was shocked and in shock” and cried when he heard the information.

“He had promise,” he mentioned. “It’s so unhappy that somebody took that away from him, from all of us.”

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Emoni Atomah

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Emoni Atomah
Photograph offered

‘Emoni was one in all our guys that simply soared’

Atomah graduated from Hyde Park Excessive College in 2016 and like numerous younger males, didn’t know what he wished to do.

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Court docket data present he was charged with theft in 2015 and legal trespass to a car in 2017, which was later dropped. However on Oct. 30, he’d filed a movement searching for to have each expunged from his document.

In early 2018, he went to St. Sabina to ask for assist, Pfleger mentioned.

After getting Atomah into church housing, they enrolled him in a life mentoring program and so they helped him discover a sequence of jobs, together with at a automotive wash at Technique Cleaning soap manufacturing facility. Over time, Atomah saved up sufficient cash so he may transfer into his personal one-bedroom condominium on the parish’s campus and started paying lease.

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“Emoni was one in all our guys that simply soared,” Tom Bosley, program supervisor for Sturdy Futures, mentioned. “He was a really respectable child. Humble. He all the time mentioned he didn’t desire a job, he wished a profession.”

Bosley mentioned numerous the younger males they assist have had challenges rising up. Some have a harder time than others as they make their approach via to commencement, however Atomah took this system in stride.

“Each program we put him in, he simply by no means stop,” Bosley mentioned. “He would get up early, was by no means late. He made each assembly.”

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One job wasn’t sufficient for Atomah, church employees mentioned. He was all the time looking for one other to be able to string collectively sufficient non permanent jobs to pay his lease.

Simply earlier than he was killed, Atomah realized that he handed his background examine and would begin a full-time place with a meal supply firm, Maxey mentioned. He was additionally searching for out packages that may assist him attend Olive Harvey junior faculty and he hoped to someday have a profession as a welder.

Maxey mentioned the reserved younger man was usually quiet in group conferences, however had an vibrant persona that was admired by those that turned his pal.

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On the morning of his demise, Atomah had met Maxey on the church’s campus for the assembly. He was trying ahead to beginning his new job.

“He didn’t have any complaints. He mentioned he had his cash for lease and he had this job,” Maxey mentioned.

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A flyer offering a $5,000 reward for information about the shooting that killed Emoni Atomah’s hangs on a door Thursday at St. Sabina Parish in Auburn Gresham.

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A flyer providing a $5,000 reward for details about the taking pictures that killed Emoni Atomah’s hangs on a door Thursday at St. Sabina Parish in Auburn Gresham.
Tom Schuba/Solar-Occasions

Reward supplied

Atomah’s household declined to remark Thursday evening.

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A lady strolling right into a church constructing Thursday evening mentioned she heard the gunfire erupt about 11:30 p.m. the evening earlier than, however mentioned the realm is normally quiet.

“I used to be extremely shocked it occurred within the car parking zone,” mentioned the girl, who requested that her identify not be used. “The gunshots have been so loud, I actually thought it was exterior this door.”

The taking pictures shocked Bosley too, who mentioned a taking pictures has by no means occurred on the campus earlier than.

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St. Sabina has supplied a $5,000 reward for details about the taking pictures that results in an arrest.

“We’re going to catch them and whoever did that is going to jail,” Pfleger mentioned.

Contributing: David Struett

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