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Za'Shawn Alexander Sylva Coats

Age 15

Rockford, Illinois

Wanted to make his sister proud

He had struggled with his grades before, but he was just beginning to excel at Jefferson High. “He just wanted to make me proud,” his sister Je’Miya Wills wrote in a Facebook post.

He was sweet, innocent, kind, “surprisingly” funny and a joy to be around, his aunt Lavanda Michelle said.

On Jan. 21, 2019 – Martin Luther King Jr. Day – Za'Shawn Alexander Sylva Coats, 15, was walking down the street near a church with two friends in Rockford, Illinois. A car pulled up. It was just before 4 p.m. A gunshot fired from the vehicle struck Coats in the head, killing him.

By Elizabeth Meisenzahl · Age 17
Meet the Reporters

More than 300 siblings

Ramand Kassadine Davis

Happy in his SpongeBob SquarePants jammies

Yaleah Hall

Sister, daughter, dancer, since day one

Elisha Amon Cole

Dreaming big, working on his portfolio

Lia Lin Collier

A light, “unrelenting joy” extinguished

Peyton Nicole Hurt

Still helping others, even in death

Ryan Amadeo Dela Cruz

Gone, two weeks shy of graduation

Rashaad Izil Wisher

One brother buried. Then another one.

Izabella Marie Helem

Brother shoots his sister by accident

Raydale Hill

Can no longer create his music

Jaquincy Jawan Ross

Wanted to buy her a scooter

Lorenzo Moore-Vaughn

About to start his senior year

Elijah Foster

Dope Boy Gang. One less member.

Kameron Johnson

He dreamed of college and cars

Jeremiah Ascencio

Last moments spent cradling his brother

Shondricka J'Nay Adams

Celebrating one night, gone the next

Ty'Dre Shyheim Hailey

She didn’t know it was real

Jayden Fondeur

His older brother found him first

Jontae Billups-Brooks

An athlete and a music lover

Rashiya Melton

Joins brother, leaves behind her twin

Caydence Nicole Painter

Reading, dancing, playing. Siblings shot together.