Gun violence has claimed the lives of two members of our community in the past week. Both shootings occurred on Saturday afternoon, about an hour and 150 miles apart.
There are few parallels between the two incidents, which only serves to underscore the many ways that firearms are being used to kill innocent people around America every day.
Ezra Hill Jr. was a 10-year-old fourth-grader at Tyler Elementary School in DeKalb. Friends remember him as an energetic boy who was often smiling and used to try to teach his school principal how to do dances like the orange justice or the floss.
His mother was a substitute teacher in District 428 schools. Ezra was visiting his father in south suburban Harvey on Saturday. They were sitting in a car in front of their house when another car pulled up, someone inside fired at them, and Ezra was wounded. He died on Monday.
Stacia Hollinshead, 30, had a 5-year-old daughter. She was an 11-year Army veteran who had been deployed to Iraq. She'd worked her way through Northern Illinois University law school, and had joined the DeKalb County State's Attorney's Office in November.
Her ex-husband, who had a history of harassing and stalking her, arrived unannounced at her former in-laws' home in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, while Hollinshead and the girl were there. He shot Hollinshead 15 times as she stood beside his own mother, then went and kneeled beside the girl in the next room.
The cases are different. One was a crime of passion in a community which had not seen a homicide within its city limits in 28 years. The other was a drive-by shooting in a community that has struggled with armed violence, which took the life of a boy who we can only hope was not the intended target.
Although both cases are different, they do have much in common. They have left family members, friends, and colleagues grieving. They were senseless. They left our community a lesser place.
Both Ezra and Hollinshead had much more to give to DeKalb County and to the world, had they not lost their lives at the point of a gun.
Another thing they have in common is that we will not forget either one. Already, there are fundraising drives organized. There are many people in DeKalb, Sycamore, and around the area who want to help in any way they can. In the wake of these tragedies, there are many people out there who are hurting and need help.
We trust our community will rally behind those who need help and hope not to see such a tragic week here again.