CHICAGO (AP) — The mother of a University of Chicago student who was fatally shot as he walked near campus flew to the city from China to talk about shattered dreams and to promise to return home with her son’s body.
“I went abroad for the first time in my life not to attend your graduation ceremony, let alone your wedding celebration, but to attend your funeral,” Li Rong said Thursday in Mandarin before the hundreds who gathered at a chapel near where Shaoxiong ”Dennis” Zheng was killed.
“You said you wanted me to take me to see the world, you wanted to witness your dreams, You wanted us to look forward to the future together.” Instead, said the mother of 24-year-old Zheng, “I am going to bring you home.”
The memorial service came at the end of an emotional and traumatic time at the university in the Hyde Park neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side. But after a manhunt that ended with the arrest of an 18-year-old man who, police say, killed Zheng for his laptop and iPhone that he sold at a phone store for $100, the service was all about what the killer really took.
As students filled the Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, photographs of Zheng rotated on a television screen, with the Chicago Tribune reporting that the images that appeared showed Zheng from the time he was a boy striking a silly pose to a man proudly displaying his academic accomplishments.
In addressing the students, Rong spoke for others who send their children off to campus in what they hope will be a long and fulfilling life only to hear news no parent should ever receive.
“Countless mothers and families are standing by,” the Chicago Sun-Times reported she said. “We all share the same grief and anger, and call for severe punishment for the murderer.”