URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — Police are still investigating after a 15-year-old was murdered while riding his bike. It’s a shock to anyone when a teenager is murdered, but for those who knew Tearius Pettis, that reality is even harder to grasp.
“It was just way too close to home,” said Karimah Hafeez, a former teacher’s aide at Circle Academy in Urbana several years ago when Pettis attended. She remembers him well. “He was very protective, very loving, very loyal, once you got to know him, because he did have that tough outer shell to where he didn’t want to come off as too vulnerable.” She says he loved reading and was a great baseball player.
Hafeez says hearing Pettis was murdered Saturday evening on Philo Road near Michigan Avenue in Urbana was difficult news to take. Police say he was riding his bike when someone started shooting at him. They believe he was targeted.
“He was around the corner from where I lived at the time when I was there, I used to see Tearius outside of school, and to hear this happened at 6 p.m. in the evening, you know, you don’t believe that you lived in a place where things like this can happen to kids.”
Pettis had since moved on to a different school and Hafeez is in a different community, but she says she never expected his story to be over. “I never felt like that was gonna be where he stopped because he always wanted something more.”
Any Circle Academy students struggling with the news of Pettis’ death can reach out to staff for help. They are visiting student’s homes regularly to drop off meals and homework packets.