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Natwan Kian Holyfield

Age 17

Chicago, Illinois

Supposed to go to homecoming, prom

Friends had expected to see him at school the next day.

The missed boy, known as “Twan Glizzy” or “Twizzy,” was a big sports fan. “He was one of the good ones,” who cared about his friends and family. The True Religion Brand Jeans employee was passionate about basketball and baseball during his time at Bowen High School. His friends planned to hear his jokes and “love [him] forever.”

At 9:25 p.m. on Sept. 9, 2018, Natwan Kian Holyfield, 17, was shot and killed on East 74th Street in Chicago, Illinois. His friends held a candle lighting in his honor two days later.

By Bryn Healy · Age 17
Meet the Reporters

Kaiden Vague

Age 16

Santa Barbara, California

Sixteenth birthday. Golden birthday. Last birthday.

“[He] lived his life to the fullest,” said Gwen Stephens, his behavioral therapist.

A sophomore at Dos Pueblos High School, he worked with his family’s nonprofit Softin Inc., offering seafaring opportunities for people in need. Full of humor, adventure and kind-heartedness, he saw his autism as a chance to raise awareness for the disabled community.

But on Feb. 15, he suffered an accidental self-inflicted gunshot wound at the Glass Factory shooting range in Santa Barbara, California. Kaiden Vague died the next day, Feb. 16, 2018. It was his 16th birthday.

By Isabel Hadly · Age 18
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Eric Xavier Degori

Age 15

Tulsa, Oklahoma

His jokes could make anyone laugh

He was pale, with freckles and blonde hair. A high school sophomore, he was known for his sense of humor.

“His jokes could make anyone laugh,” a friend wrote in an online obituary. “He just made school so much better for so many.”

On Jan. 5, 2019, Eric Xavier Degori, 15,  was accidentally shot and killed by a friend with a rifle in an apartment in Tulsa, Oklahoma. “God,” his mother posted afterwards, “right no(w) I hate you because I don’t understand how you could take a 15-year-old boy who is loved by all … I should have been there to protect him.”

By Ava Uditsky · Age 16
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Will Earl Davis Jr.

Age 17

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

The rising senior was always smiling

It was the beginning of August and school was about to begin. He was 17 years old, a rising senior at Brookfield East High School. His friends described him as a person who was always smiling. In nine months, his class would walk the stage.

But he wouldn’t.

William Earl Davis Jr. was shot at approximately 10:55 p.m. on Aug. 6, 2018, while observing a confrontation at Swing Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He died later at a local hospital. Afterward, residents talked about how to make the park safer: more lighting and cameras, and more police.

By Jessica Ngoc Lien · Age 16
Meet the Reporters

Rashiya Melton

Age 18

Cedar Grove, North Carolina

Joins brother, leaves behind her twin

According to her twin sister, Lashiaya, she was the “funniest person” she knew. Their 8-year-old brother died during heart surgery only six months before. “Emotions are still raw,” said Lashiaya.

She was at a Halloween party at a barn on Mill Creek Road; police later said there were some 300 people there. Lashiaya heard gunshots. Her twin was behind the barn, unconscious but breathing.

Rashiya Melton, 18, was shot in the head on Oct. 28, 2018 at the Smokehouse Valley Farms in Cedar Grove, North Carolina. She died the next day at UNC Hospital.

By Kealia Victorino · Age 15
Meet the Reporters

Edgar Alan Espino

Age 16

Lewisville, Texas

Jokester loved to make people laugh

He went through life with a joke in his back pocket.

When he was young, he was known to his friends as “Edgar Allan Poe,” a play off his full name. Teachers thought of him as a “very respectful, smart,” “happy, kind-hearted boy.” He was known for his humor, as well as his deep thinking and long talks. He lived with his parents and brothers Erik and Justin in Lewisville, Texas.

In his hometown on July 8, 2018 at 1 a.m, Edgar Alan Espino, 16, was shot in the chest during an attempted break-in, police say. His friends and family came together to remember him at his funeral three days later.

By Bryn Healy · Age 17
Meet the Reporters

Daron Johnson

Age 14

Lawrence, Indiana

He went to celebrate another’s life

Big smiles and an even bigger heart to go with it, he always offered to put up groceries and help change, bathe and feed his brother with disabilities. His family described him as “caring” and “outgoing;” his personality “lit up the room.” The Belzer Middle School student was Momma's boy who kept those around him laughing.

One Saturday night he went to the Lawrence Lions Club in Lawrence, Indiana to celebrate one of his friends.

There at a birthday party on June 9, 2018, Daron “Manny” Johnson, 14, was shot in the face by another other teen. Five days later, Daron was taken off life support.

By Diana Tassy · Age 17
Meet the Reporters

Jayvone J. Shackelford-Bishop

Age 17

Buffalo, New York

Friends together like Lilo & Stitch

He was her best friend. They did everything together, from planning his 18th birthday and visiting Canalside to singing along to his favorite songs until a big, goofy smile lit up his face.

“This was really my baby y’all, my dawg, my everything,” she would later say. “We was tight like Lilo & Stitch.”

Jayvone J. Shackelford-Bishop, 17, nicknamed Molly by his friends, was fatally shot March 21, 2018, in Buffalo, New York. He had been working with Buffalo Peacemakers, a program that tries to stop violence.

By Kaitlin Musante · Age 17
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Deandre Moon

Age 18

Jackson, Mississippi

Overnight tragedy for a basketball fan

His Facebook profile was full of photos of himself with his friends – sitting on porch steps, standing outside cars, visiting with family. One winter afternoon, he shared a video featuring one of his favorite sports: basketball.

Days later, on another website, a photo of him was featured. He was standing in front of a door decorated in garland and Christmas wreaths, the holiday season rapidly approaching. Nearly 100 virtual candles had been “lit” in his honor. He was described by those who knew him as both funny and respectful.

Deandre Moon, 18, died from gunshot wounds on Dec. 15, 2018, in Jackson, Mississippi.

By Allison Rapp · Age 19
Meet the Reporters

Terale Claridy-Vaught

Age 18

Charlotte, North Carolina

‘Solid’ friend barely gets to adulthood

As a boy, he liked football and made his classmates “laugh everyday,” but his time as an adult was short-lived.

Once, his friend ran out of gas and money, desperate to get home. The boy nicknamed “Rale” literally gave her the shirt off his back and tried to sell it at Plato’s Closet, a used clothing store, so she’d have gas money.

Late on June 3, 2018, after shots were fired into a Charlotte, N.C., home, Terale A. Claridy-Vaught, 18, was found dead on the street.

By Bryn Healy · Age 17
Meet the Reporters

More than 100 jokesters

Natwan Kian Holyfield

Supposed to go to homecoming, prom

Kaiden Vague

Sixteenth birthday. Golden birthday. Last birthday.

Eric Xavier Degori

His jokes could make anyone laugh

Will Earl Davis Jr.

The rising senior was always smiling

Rashiya Melton

Joins brother, leaves behind her twin

Edgar Alan Espino

Jokester loved to make people laugh

Daron Johnson

He went to celebrate another’s life

Jayvone J. Shackelford-Bishop

Friends together like Lilo & Stitch

Deandre Moon

Overnight tragedy for a basketball fan

Terale Claridy-Vaught

‘Solid’ friend barely gets to adulthood

Amauri Green

Died while fixing a flat tire

Eddie Daiquan Grant

A devoted boyfriend and rap fan

Bryan Portales Escalante

Phone, wallet, shoes and, life — gone

Darion Gordon

Sixteen years erased by one bullet

Steven Alexander Jr.

He missed his first Father’s Day

Jonathan David Freeman Jr.

Debated anything, from music to Deflategate

Matthew James Jurado

Challenging student had a compassionate heart

Ryan J. Dillon

A playful boy, stopped by bullets

Manuel Lopez Jr.

High school senior set to graduate

Domoni Gaither

He had a bright white smile