A 14-year-old boy was fatally shot in the back in a ‘cowardly’ attack as he tried to leave a graduation party with his older brother in suburban Minnesota.
Demaris Nathan Hobbs-Ekdahl, who had just finished his freshman year, was killed as he tried to leave the party before the suspects roared away in two SUVs spraying bullets into neighboring houses as they fled.
Neightbors and police dispatchers reported hearing screams and desperate cries of ‘help me’ as guests at the Saturday night party in Woodbury tried to help Demaris.
He had been at the party with his older brother Davion, 16, when the older boy was allegedly threatened by three men with a gun
Terrified Demaris called his mother Trisha Ekdahl to tell her he was scared and wanted to leave the party but when the boys tried to go in their car, he was shot in the back.
‘If you can shoot a 14-year-old kid driving away in his back, you’re a coward,’ his uncle Bob Humphries told the Star Tribune.
Demaris Nathan Hobbs-Ekdahl, who had just finished his freshman year, was struck by bullets fired by suspects who fled the scene in two SUVs in Woodbury on Saturday night
‘He was leaving the scene and they shot the car up and he told his older brother, “I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe,”‘ she told Kare 11.
Family members said his father drove him to Regions Hospital where he died of his injuries.
‘I don’t know what to do. I lost my baby,’ Trisha said.
‘They didn’t even let me say goodbye to him at the hospital. They took him straight to the morgue.’
Demaris had called his mother Trisha Ekdahl to tell her he was scared and wanted to leave the party after the suspects had pulled a gun on Davion
As officers began arriving at 10.46pm on Saturday night, they found between 30 and 40 people at a graduation party. Witnesses told police a white SUV was involved and had fled the area while a dark SUV or truck is also believed to have been involved.
Police believe the victim and his brother knew the suspects and it was not a random attack.
Several houses were struck by gunfire, and all residents are believed to be unharmed, police said.
His aunt Michelle Ekdahl said in a Facebook post: ‘This is my nephew Demaris Ekdahl he was a great kid full of life, he didn’t deserve to be taken.
‘He was scared and only wanted him momma because he knew these thugs were going to do something and just wanted to get in the car with his brother and get home, but a coward took him from us.’
Demaris attended Tartan Senior High School in Oakdale and had just finished the ninth grade earlier in the week.
On Sunday, relatives of Demaris released blue balloons at Richard Walton Memorial Park in Oakdale to honor his memory.
‘He’s a good kid. He didn’t deserve it. He wasn’t in the streets. He wasn’t a gang member. He didn’t do nothing wrong. Nothing,’ Trisha said.
‘He’s such an innocent boy,’ she added. ‘They killed my baby.’
On Sunday, relatives of Demaris including mother Trisha, center, her sister Katie and brother Jeff right released blue balloons at Richard Walton Memorial Park in Oakdale
Demaris Hobbs-Ekdahl’s Tartan High School football teammates huddle to support one other at a vigil in his memory at Richard Walton Memorial Park in Oakdale on Sunday
During the memorial on Sunday night, many spoke out against gun violence. Demaris’ grandmother said: ‘This has got to stop, put the guns down.’
His aunt Michelle Ekdahl has set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for the funeral costs.
Paying tribute to Demaris, she wrote: ‘A beautiful soul was taken yesterday my nephew, he was 14 years old full of life.
‘Loved football and loved doing mechanical work and watching his uncle race cars. He didn’t deserve to be taken like this.
‘I am asking for everyone to pray for our family and please help my sister out in the most difficult time of her life, burying one her son’s.’
Woodbury police said in a statement on Sunday: ‘Last night’s shooting on Edgewood Av resulted in the tragic loss of a 14-year-old boy, and our hearts go out to his family.
‘Detectives worked tirelessly through the night investigating the case and will continue to work on developing leads.’
Demaris is the fourth youth under age 15 killed by gunfire in the Twin Cities since April 30.