Aridecy Tate thought she’d be returning to Chicago today to celebrate finishing her cosmetology degree here, just two weeks after her only son, Ulysses S. Gissendanner III, helped her move to Arkansas.
Instead, she arrived and went this morning to the Cook County medical examiner’s office to identify his body, after he was shot to death while driving away from his aunt’s home in the West Pullman neighborhood Wednesday afternoon, Tate said.
“He’s never been in trouble, he’s a good student,” Tate said in an interview today.
Gissendanner, 19, was driving away from an aunt’s house in the 12400 block of South Union Avenue and heading to work when he was fatally shot, his mother said. He was declared dead at Roseland Hospital at 3:15 p.m. Wednesday, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.
The teen was driving when someone shot him about 2:35 p.m., and he was taken to Roseland Hospital, according to preliminary information available from Chicago Police News Affairs officials.
An autopsy determined that he died from a gunshot wound to the head and his death was ruled a homicide, according to the medical examiner’s office.
Police said that Gissendanner has no criminal background or gang affiliation.
“He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Tate said. “He shouldn’t have been there.”
Gissendanner, of the 9700 block of South LaSalle Street, graduated in June from Oak Park-River Forest High School, a spokeswoman for the school said. Although his family has lived on the South Side for years, his father lives in Oak Park and Gissendanner moved to the near west suburb to get a better education, his mother said.
When Gissendanner, who was known to friends as Chris, transferred into OPRF as a junior, staff at the school were immediately impressed by his courtesy, his motivation and his warmth, said Brandi Ambrose, his counselor and college adviser.
"He came to a school of 3,200 kids but his personality was very open and very kind ... so he didn't struggle," Ambrose said.
Ambrose often saw Gissendanner during his study halls, when he could take the time to visit the advising office to talk about his studies and his future.
"He just had a huge smile, and was so kind," Ambrose said. "He was a very pleasant and courteous teenager."
"He wanted his family to be proud of him," she said.
After his graduation, Gissendanner had been attending Daley College this fall, according to a City Colleges spokeswoman. He was hoping to fulfill his “Plan A” to become the manager of a business, his mother said. Meanwhile, he was working for Kraft Foods at the company’s bakery plant at 7300 S. Kedzie Ave.
“They put him everywhere, had him doing a lot of different things, because he was a fast learner,” Tate said.
His “Plan B,” which he also was pursuing, was to go into the music business as a rapper, she said.
As YPN Boomtown, Gissendanner had some success as a rapper, playing some concerts in Chicago in the last year, his mother said.
One of his songs, “Big Dreams,” talks about dreaming of success and life on the street, where many “love to hang out … I got dreams—that ain’t me,” and talks about him getting A’s in school.
“You know, I’ve got to make it,” Gissendanner chants in the song.
On Wednesday, Gissendanner left his aunt's house to try to get to his job by 3:30 p.m., but instead was shot, his mother said. She had expected that he would pick her up at a Greyhound station at 5:30 a.m. when she came to finish up her degree and receive a certificate.
"He was supposed to pick me up," Tate said. "Instead of coming on the bus to go back to school, I'm coming back to bury my only son. He was my only son."
Services are pending.
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