An alternative high school in Chicago held a special ceremony last week to honor a young black student gunned down by police. Michael Elam, 17, was shot and killed by a Chicago police officer after the car that he was riding in was pulled over for a “traffic violation.”
Elam, who would have celebrated his 18th birthday next month, was expected to graduate from West Town Academy Alternative High School this year.
“Our deepest and sincerest condolences to the family and friends of our beloved student Michael Elam,” reads a message on the school’s Facebook page. “We don’t have all the details yet, but Michael lost his life to gunshot wounds at about 1:30am Sunday. We will take time during the school day to honor Michael.”
The memorial included a diploma and several dedications to the slain teen made by fellow students. WTA is an alternative school that works to close the dropout rate in Chicago. The school accepts students who are not currently enrolled in traditional high school or a GED program, but want to “take the important step of returning to school, earning their diploma, and taking control of their future,” reads a statement on the WTA website.
Chicago Police claim that an officer shot and killed Elam following an “armed confrontation” that ensued after he exited the vehicle. Authorities pulled the car over for a traffic violation in the North Lawndale neighborhood at around 8:30 p.m. on Feb. 16, the Chicago Tribune reports.
According to a preliminary police statement, officers “observed the car strike a parked vehicle and curb” before it came to a stop. Elam was shot at least twice as he attempted to flee. The teen was transported to a local hospital, but died the following morning from multiple gunshot wounds. Police claim that two guns were recovered at the scene.
Family and friends have vowed to seek justice for Elam. His mother also launched a Go Fund Me account to raise $3,500 to cover his funeral expenses. “Although I hesitated to make this page because of a heavy broken heart, I nonetheless would appreciate any blessings your heart can give to help assist my son,” reads a message on the crowdfunding page.
The officer involved in Elam’s death was placed on a monthlong administrative leave. The investigation into the “specifics of the incident” remains ongoing, according to the CPD.