CHICAGO – The family and friends of a 32-year-old man who was shot dead in broad daylight on Wednesday are speaking out, calling on his killer to come forward.
Verndell Smith, nicknamed “Little Man” by family members, known as “Vee” to others, loved to dance. This is why the 32-year-old created the Dance Organization of the Ultimate Threat when he was 18, with the last operating studio at 75th and Eberhart. Smith’s family revealed he wanted to use the studio to help keep neighborhood children off the streets and safe from gun violence.
The tragic irony: This is exactly how his life ended on the morning of May 19.
“Stop shooting, start dancing,” was Smith’s motto, family members said.
Police said Smith was walking the 7400 block of S. King Drive for coffee. That’s when a silver SUV, possibly a Dodge Journey, arrived and someone inside opened fire.
Smith’s only sister, Latoya, sensed something was wrong.
“I just had a feeling,” she said. “I was sitting at home and thought something was wrong with my brother. My kids thought I was dramatic.
“I saw online that a 32 year old man was shot on King Drive, and I just felt in my mind that it was my brother.”
Police said Smith was shot several times. He was taken to hospital by ambulance and later pronounced dead.
Dance Organization of the Ultimate Threat shared on Facebook, “We will miss you. Your legacy will live on forever. We love you! ”The loss of Smith was felt by everyone, including Jordan Marshall, who has been dancing at the studio since 2017.
“He wasn’t just a coach, he was a mentor. A father figure, ”she said. “Everything we talked about was always positive.”
Mourning the loss of her son, Smith’s mother said she wanted the person (s) responsible for his death to come forward.
“Whoever took my son,” she said, “please meet up. “
A balloon release for Smith is scheduled for Saturday at 11 a.m. in front of the Ultimate Threat Dance Organization studio.
Anyone with information can leave an anonymous tip at cpdtip.com.
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