‘Suraj’s name means rising sun’: Justice sought for queer man fatally shot while standing on Chicago porch

SURAJ MAHADEVA

More than 100 people gathered on Thursday to honor the memory of a man fatally shot in Chicago’s Palmer Square neighborhood earlier this month.

What happened: Suraj Mahadeva, 26, was standing on a friend’s porch when he was shot in the head on Dec. 11. He was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, according to WGN TV.

  • Chicago police responded to the shooting on the 2100 block of North Albany around 3:30 a.m. It’s unclear if Mahadeva’s shooter was on foot or in a vehicle, and a suspect has yet to be identified.
  • Mahadeva, who had Sri Lankan and Filipino roots, was a beloved member of local Asian and LGBTQ communities. The Michigan native settled in Chicago after graduating with a degree in neuroscience.
  • Mahadeva worked as a medical clinician for a local dermatologist’s office. In his free time, he volunteered to teach swimming to kids with autism and helped young Chicagoans struggling with homelessness.

What loved ones are saying: Family and friends described Mahadeva as a brilliant and charismatic person at his memorial service, which took place at the Center on Halsted. They vowed to get justice for him.

  • J. Saxon-Maldonado, who heard the gunshot that killed his friend, said the execution-style nature of the shooting suggests it could have been targeted. “If they’re (the shooters) watching, I want them to know that we will find you – and we will get justice,” Saxon-Maldonado told CBS Chicago.
  • Another friend, Teja Kodali, cited Mahadeva’s selflessness as a defining trait. “He was such a rare person. I don’t think I will ever meet anyone like him,” Kodali told Block Club Chicago. “I really think the world is going to be a dimmer place without him.”
  • Anika Mahadeva, a cousin, helped organize a GoFundMe page for their family. Anika described their cousin as “vibrant, confident, talented and so full of life.”
  • “Suraj’s name means “rising sun,’” Anika wrote. “Anyone that has known Suraj knows that he shined brightly and gave a sense of warmth and joy like the Sun to everyone around him.”
  • The Chicago chapter of Asian Americans Advancing Justice, where Mahadeva was a member, also released a statement addressing his death. “Suraj had his whole life ahead of him and we are heartbroken that his life was cut short. Suraj was an active member of queer, Filipinx, and South Asian communities across Chicago and the Midwest,” the group said. “We are holding his family, friends, and loved ones in our hearts.”

Featured Image via GoFundMe

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