Childhood friends and former basketball stars at Patrick Henry High, Jordan Hughes and Mandela Jackson went to school together, played ball together and died less than a mile apart in St. Paul shootings overnight Tuesday.
Hughes, 21, was found shot in the 800 block of Fuller Avenue at about 11:30 p.m. Tuesday. He later died at Regions Hospital. Mandela Jackson, 22, was discovered outside a home on the 400 block of Charles Avenue about 8 a.m. Wednesday with a gunshot wound to the head and a gun between his legs, according to family members.
Sgt. Paul Paulos, a police spokesman, said that "neither of the deaths appear to be random and no suspects are being sought at this time."
Jibreel Jackson and another sibling discovered their brother's lifeless body in the back yard of a friend's house.
"I was screaming," Jibreel Jackson said. "I'm still in disbelief."
Walter Jones, Hughes' foster father, said he was told by friends that his son had been at a friend's house in north Minneapolis on Tuesday night. When a friend of Hughes' went to pick him up, he was told that Hughes had left with Jackson and another friend. Another person reportedly drove Jackson and Hughes to St. Paul, Jones said.
Hughes could light up a room, Jones said. "He was my son, and we loved him."
Jones had met Hughes 11 years ago when he was a coach at the Farview Park recreation center. Hughes was visibly younger than the other kids, but that didn't faze him.
"You saw this moxie about him that immediately caught your eye," Jones said.
Hughes and Jackson both graduated from Patrick Henry High School in Minneapolis.
Hughes had briefly attended community colleges in Texas, Iowa and Nebraska on basketball scholarships and planned to attend Dakota County Technical College this fall. "I really don't think he had reached his potential," Jones said.
Hughes was one of the 25 finalists for the Mr. Basketball award in 2010, an honor presented to the state's top senior. He averaged more than 20 points per game during his senior season and is the school's all-time leading scorer.
Jackson lived with his parents. Friend Jalissa Bush and Jibreel Jackson said Mandela Jackson loved to joke around and was a natural leader.
"He was the life of this family," Bush said.
In 2007-08, Jackson averaged 21 points per game as a high school senior and led Henry to the state tournament.
Larry McKenzie, the basketball coach at Patrick Henry from 1997 to the fall of 2006, said he has been talking to former players all day since he learned about the deaths.
"It hurts," McKenzie said. "I can't even begin to try to explain my feelings today."
Europe Angelique, who now attends college in Atlanta, said she grew up playing basketball with the pair. "They were like brothers," she said.
"I wished that the world would be able to see the talent that these two had, but unfortunately that wasn't able to happen," Angelique wrote in a blog post.
Court records show that neither man had a criminal history, but in 2009 a civil commitment in mental health court was stayed for Mandela Jackson in favor of medication typically used to manage delusions and hallucinations.