CHICAGO (FOX 32/Sun-Times Media Wire) - A South Side man whose transformational story was featured in the CNN documentary “Chicagoland” was killed early Thursday.
Family learned about Lee McCollum III’s death about 1 a.m. Thursday, the young man’s grandfather, George McCollum, told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Chicago Police found the 22-year-old unresponsive on the ground with a gunshot wound to the head at 12:37 a.m. in the 500 block of West 126th Street.
George McCollum said late Thursday morning the young man’s father was at the Cook County medical examiner’s office. That office confirmed that McCollum, of the 11400 block of South Yale, was pronounced dead at the scene at 1:22 a.m.
In a year where young black men are killing each other at near record numbers, Lee McCollum's death stands out. Not just because he was spotlighted in a national documentary, but because he came so close to changing his fate.
"Fenger (high school) helped me get into college...I didn't have no hopes or no dreams of going,” McCollum said in ‘Chicagoland.’
McCullum, featured for his remarkable turnaround from street tough with gang ties to hard working student, had plans back in 2014 to get himself out of Roseland once and for all.
Two years later, he suffered a gunshot wound to his head. Neighbors say he died in a gun battle.
“It was a back and forth shooting between the individuals that was involved,” one neighbor said.
McCollum’s wish to escape his violent past was derailed after he took two bullets to the leg in a drive-by shooting. He was on his way to work that day in august of 2014. Liz Dozier, his former principal at Fenger and a mentor, says McCollum like so many of her students fell victim to the culture of gun violence plaguing Chicago.
"He had hopes and dreams like every other young person out there and he wanted to be a good father, and he wanted to live this life in an authentic way not only for himself but for his child and it's just unfortunate…another dead person shot dead in our streets,” Dozier said.
In the documentary, a candid McCollum opened up about his goals and his fears.
"My two worries in life are not making it...being unsuccessful and being a bum on the street, and second I want to be a father and be able to provide for my family,” he said.
McCollum was on his way to his job at a Wendy’s restaurant when he died, family members said.
CPD hasn't released any details in their investigation into McCollum’s death. Dozier told FOX 32 that her greatest worry going forward is people trivializing his death: how he was shot, how many other people were shot today, this week, this month, etc.