‘Beautiful’ queer man shot in head and killed outside friend’s home: ‘I’ll miss his smile and hugs’

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Friends and family members have paid tribute to Suraj Mahadeva, a 26-year-old queer man who was fatally shot in Chicago. (YouTube/ABC 7 Chicago)

Mahadeva, 26, was shot in the head while he was standing on the porch of a friend’s home in the Palmer Square neighbourhood in Chicago on 11 December at about 3:30 am, ABC7 Chicago reported.

A friend heard the sound of gunshots in the middle of the night and found Mahadeva with a wound to the head. Mahadeva was rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

More than 100 friends and family members paid tribute to Mahadeva during a memorial service in the Center on Halsted, an LGBT+ community centre in Chicago.

Loved ones remembered Mahadeva, who worked as a medical clinician, for his love of dance and joyful presence.

He was also an active member of the city’s queer community, assisted young people experiencing homelessness and volunteered his time to teach kids with autism how to swim.

J Saxon-Maldonado recalled at the memorial service how his friend was a “beautiful, brilliant person – always charismatic, effervescent, happy”.

“I want tonight to be solemn, but also joyful – because that’s what he would have wanted,” Saxon-Maldonado said.

Jen, a family member, said she was thankful for the time she had with Mahadeva and hoped he “rests in peace”.

“I’m going to miss his smile and hugs,” she added.

Teja Kodali, a high school and college friend, described Mahadeva as a “rare person”, adding “I don’t think I will ever meet anyone like him”.

“He taught me so much about life,” Kodali said. “He had such an open mind.”

Kodali continued: “He was so curious [about] people and getting to know them, and understanding their lives and trying to walk in their shoes. … I really think the world is going to be a dimmer place without him.”

His sister, Althea, previously recalled how her brother was a compassionate man who lived in service of the local queer community and anyone in need, Block Club Chicago reported.

“He gave the best hugs in the whole world,” she said. “He was so sensitive and such a good listener and such a fierce protector of anyone who he felt needed help. He was there to help them.”

Family members have launched a GoFundMe campaign in honour of Mahadeva. The campaign will raise funds to continue Mahadeva’s “amazing influence on the world”.

No arrests have been made in relation to Madadeva’s death. Althea called on anyone with information about the shooting to come forward.

“The best way to be safe is to catch the person who did this and to stop people from being able to do something like this again,” Althea said.

Mahadeva is survived by his father, mother, sister, aunts, uncles, cousins and many friends, according to the GoFundMe campaign.

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