A 26-year-old queer man was killed in Chicago’s Palmer Square neighborhood on Saturday.
Suraj Mahadeva was shot in the head while waiting outside a friend’s home around 3:25 a.m., according to authorities. On Thursday, more than 100 friends and family members gathered for a memorial for him at the Center on Halsted, Chicago's LGBTQ+ community center.
“Suraj was a beautiful, brilliant person — always charismatic, effervescent, happy,” a friend, J. Saxon-Maldonado, said at the memorial, according to local TV station WBBM.
Mahadeva worked as a medical technician. When he wasn’t at his day job, he taught children with autism how to swim, assisted young people experiencing homelessness, and promoted local LGBTQ+ Pride events, his sister Althea Mahadeva told Block Club Chicago.
“He liked everything and everyone, and what he loved the most was helping people,” she said.
Mahadeva was killed only a few days before he was to go on a family trip.
“This has hit very hard for us because we don’t know what the reasons were. We don’t know who did it,” Althea Mahadeva said. “The best way to be safe is to catch the person who did this and to stop people from being able to do something like this again.”
Saturday morning he was waiting to be let into his friend’s residence when he was shot. His friend ran outside to help. Mahadeva was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, police reported.
“I feel so bad for his friend because he had to be there as he passed,” Althea Mahadeva told Block Club Chicago.
Mahadeva grew up in Michigan. He graduated from Michigan State University in 2018. He then moved to Chicago to be with friends and for the queer community, his sister said.
“His love languages were acts of service and quality time and touch. He gave the best hugs in the whole world,” Althea Mahadeva said. “He was so sensitive and such a good listener and such a fierce protector of anyone who he felt needed help. He was there to help them.”
Block Club Chicago reports that in his last Instagram story, Mahadeva wore a Mahatma Gandhi T-shirt. It read, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of them,” according to Althea Mahadeva.
“In a way, that was the best shirt he could’ve worn because it gave me one last bit of advice,” she added.
No arrests have been made in the case. Those with information related to the shooting can leave an anonymous tip at CPDTtip.com.