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Mother tends the memorial site where son was fatally shot

NEW LENOX, Ill. (AP) – Bright orange, yellow and pink flowers in planters present a stark distinction to the dry, brown and matted grass surrounding a cross that anchors a memorial to Charlie Baird in New Lenox.

His mom, Jennifer Baird, makes every day journeys from her close by residence to the place where her 19-year-old son was fatally shot in May. She waters the flowers, trims the crops and grieves the sudden lack of her center little one.

“This is really the only place anyone can go to have a moment with him,” she stated. “I don’t have him buried anywhere because of the fact that it happened so suddenly.”

Charlie’s ashes are in an urn at the residence where he lived together with his dad and mom, older sister and youthful brother. The memorial is at the Circle Okay gasoline station at 471 N. Nelson Road, where he stopped for gas and a beverage on his means residence shortly after midnight the morning of May 11.

“I just wanted a place where people could go to, even though it’s the place where it happened,” his mom stated.

Eventually, she stated, Charlie’s stays possible will likely be laid to relaxation in somewhat Methodist cemetery close to their residence.

“Right now I can’t let him go,” she stated. “He’s got to be here with me because of the way it happened.”

After the household loved a Mother’s Day dinner collectively, Charlie went out with mates, she stated. His dad and mom didn’t wait up. They have been woke up in the center of the night time when police knocked on their door.

Police instructed them Charlie was in crucial situation at Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox. He had been shot as soon as in the decrease again. He died three days later at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn.

Only instant household might collect to mourn due to stay-at-home pointers because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We couldn’t have a proper fune-ral or wake for him because of COVID,” Baird stated. “I knew if coronavirus wasn’t happening and we had a regular service the whole town would have been there.”

Charlie had graduated from Lincoln-Way West High School and labored as a prepare dinner at a Red Robin restaurant in Orland Park.

Soon after Charlie’s dea-th, Baird acquired a message from a good friend and classmate of Charlie’s. Nathan McAvoy, 19, requested if anybody was fascinated with making a cross for the site. Baird stated no, however she thought it was an awesome thought.

“He said he was on it,” she stated. “I asked him if he took woodworking in high school. He said no, he just researched it.”

McCoy initially positioned a picket cross at the site in early June. People stopped by and positioned bouquets of flowers and trinkets. Baird adorned the cross with photos of Charlie together with his household.

Charlie’s obituary talked about that when he was a boy, he cherished dinosaurs and Legos.

“On the cross there is a picture of him with sister. He’s wearing a dinosaur sweater,” Baird stated. “He had a lot of dinosaur pajamas. When we’d give him a bath he’d have all his dinosaurs lined up on the tub. You could point to a dinosaur and he’d know the name. He was very into dinosaurs from a young age.”

The cross gave folks a spot to go to and pay respects to Charlie.

“It’s a community display,” stated David Baird, Charlie’s father.

Flowers, a candle, a solar-powered gentle and garden ornaments are a part of a memorial for Charlie Baird, 19, at the place where he was fatally shot throughout an alleged carjacking try May 11.

But Charlie’s mom apprehensive that the contemporary flowers would quickly perish.

“I said, ‘This is ridiculous.’ I’ll put a planter here. That way it will last longer,” she stated. “It’s almost like my therapy, for me. I go up there, have a little chat with him, water his flowers, and say, ‘Have a good day, boy.’”

Someone steered to McAvoy that the cross ought to be handled with an epoxy end to guard it from the components. He retrieved the cross and completed it with a shiny protecting coating. But it darkened the wooden and made it almost not possible to learn the inscriptions of Charlie’s title and the dates of his start and passing.

McAvoy texted Baird and stated he wished to make one other cross.

“He said he didn’t like the way it turned out,” she stated. “It was too dark. You couldn’t see his name. He’s like a perfectionist.”

McAvoy made a brand new cross and just lately put in it.

“It’s even nicer now,” Baird stated. “When these flowers die off we’re going to decorate it for fall. Every season we’ll try to decorate it as much as we can. Winter season will be harder.”

Baird just lately posted in a social media neighborhood for New Lenox that she appreciated how a complete stranger supplied condolences in the future when she visited the memorial.

“I was in my car, ready to leave,” Baird stated. “And she rolled down her window. She said, ‘I heard your story and my heart aches for you.’ That’s when the tears started rolling (from) my eyes. It’s just the little gestures of people I don’t know who stop and say, ‘I think about your son.’”

The violent crime shocked the neighborhood. The gasoline station is subsequent to a Jewel grocery retailer and overlooks busy Lincoln Highway. It is close to a cinema advanced and positioned a few half mile from the police station and Village Hall.

“This doesn’t happen in my town,” Baird stated.

Charlie’s dea-th was the first murder in the village in almost 20 years, stated Mayor Tim Baldermann, a former police chief in Chicago Ridge.

“Losing a child, you feel like there’s nothing you can say that could be helpful with the grieving process,” Baldermann stated.

If there’s a silver lining, it’s in the kindness of strangers exhibiting assist for the household and the way neighborhood members have reached out to supply consolation, he stated.

“It sometimes takes horrible events to realize the good around you,” he stated.

Dave Baird, left, watches as his spouse, Jennifer Baird, waters flowers Saturday at a memorial where their son, Charlie, was fatally shot on May 11. Charlie Baird’s good friend, Nathan McAvoy, 19, proper, made the picket cross that achors the show at a Circle Okay gasoline station, 471 Nelson Road, New Lenox.

A 16-year-old Harvey boy faces first-degree mur-der prices in reference to Charlie’s slaying. Police stated the obvious motivation for the at-tack was the juvenile’s want to steal the 2012 Subaru that Charlie was driving.

The juvenile and two others arrived at the Circle Okay in a Hyundai Santa Fe that was stolen in Lockport two days earlier, police stated. Charlie was inside the comfort retailer when the juvenile tried the door to the Subaru, nevertheless it was locked.

When Charlie got here out, he exchanged phrases with the alleged assailant.

“I don’t know what was said,” Baird stated. “I think when (Charlie) saw the gun he turned and started to run.”

Tending the memorial helps Baird grieve her son. She notices as quickly as one thing new has been left at the memorial. She can inform from the trampled floor that many individuals have stopped by to mourn Charlie.

“I go every morning to water, especially when it’s this hot out,” she stated. “There’s no shade. It’s full sun. I go every single morning.”


Source: The (Tinley Park) Daily Southtown,

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