Breaking: DeKalb boy shot on Saturday dies

March 25, 2019

Ezra Hill Jr., a 10-year-old DeKalb boy who was shot on Saturday while visiting his father in south suburban Harvey, has died, a family friend confirmed Monday.

Hill was a fourth-grader at Tyler Elementary in DeKalb. who was sometimes known as “E.J.”. His youth wrestling coach, Max Hiatt, said he Hill was always smiling. He called him “one of the good kids.”

“He’s a great kid. He’s funny,” Hiatt said. “As nice as the other kids on the team. Hard-working. Always (has) a smile on his face.”

The Associated Press reported that Harvey police say the pair was outside their home about 1:30 p.m. Saturday when shots were fired from another car. The boy’s father was not wounded. Slugs also struck a nearby house and another vehicle. Police were trying to determine a motive for the shooting.

The tragedy has affected the District 428 family in a number of ways, District Superintendent Jamie Craven said. Hill’s mother, Drea Harden, also has worked in several district schools as a substitute teacher.

Schools in DeKalb are closed for spring break this week, but the tragedy has led to plans to reopen Tyler. School officials say there will be grief counselors on hand at the school at 1021 Alden Circle in DeKalb on Wednesday from 2 to 6 p.m.

A parent or guardian must accompany their child and sign them in and out, according to an email from Principal Lissette Jacobson.

“In addition, an increased level of individual and group counseling services will be made available when school resumes on Monday, April 1,” Jacobson wrote in an email to parents. “The entire school community will be briefed of the facts and the opportunities for additional support on April 1.”

Hill Jr. had success on the wrestling mat, placing at numerous tournaments, including taking third place at 95 pounds at sectionals in early March.

“He gets along with all the kids on the team,” Hiatt said. “He definitely has some good relationship with other kids on the team. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone had anything bad to say about him.”

Lissette Jacobson, principal of Tyler Elementary, sent an email to parents and caretakers Monday morning, detailing ways to speak with children and anyone who may deal with potential trauma pertaining to Ezra’s condition. The school is offering “an increased level of individual and group counseling services will be made available when school resumes on Monday, April 1st.”

Jacobsen also offered advice for parents whose children may struggle with the tragic news.

“Please be aware that your child may experience strong feelings in response to this crisis, including sorrow and depression, anger, fear, or even guilt,” Jacobsen wrote in an email. “He or she may have difficulty sleeping and/or experience nightmares or may temporarily regress in his or her behavior or academically. If your child has special needs, he or she may have trouble communicating their feelings and may need additional time and space to process this information.

“All children will likely have a need at this time for your comfort and support; please try to be available to listen with patience and understanding.”