The last time Desiree Jeffers saw the dimpled face of Quantell Braxton, the 14-year-old told her he planned to go shopping this past weekend to get ready for his first days in high school.
Instead, on Saturday, Braxton was shot down on a north Minneapolis street in an area residents say is struggling with youth violence.
Police still don't have answers about who killed Braxton, who was in a group of teens fleeing gunfire. They also didn't know how a memorial for him caught fire overnight.
On Monday afternoon, Jeffers, 39, left a card on the charred remains of the memorial on the corner of 17th and Morgan Avenues N., across from North Commons Park.
"I would say he was happy, always ready to help somebody out," said Jeffers, a family friend whom Braxton used to call "auntie."
The teen was supposed to spend Saturday night sleeping over at a friend's house, his parents said on Monday. Braxton's parents didn't worry about him playing out in the neighborhood because he was good about letting them know where he was.
The parents were told that Braxton was outside with friends about 11 p.m. Saturday when gunshots rang out. Braxton, known by many simply as Q, and the rest of the group took off running. At one point, his friends realized Braxton wasn't with them.
"They looked to see if Q was behind them ... He was gone," said his father, Derrick Kennedy.
Braxton's parents said that the teen spent his time hanging out with friends, fixing and building electronics and helping out at the Boys and Girls Club across the street from his house.
His mother, Cindy Braxton, 36, stood on her porch Monday wearing a necklace that spelled "Mom" and a pair of earrings that Braxton had given her for Mother's Day. Braxton was looking forward to playing football when he started at Robbinsdale Cooper High School this fall, she said.
"I feel numb," she said. "There will never be anybody to replace him."
Kennedy, 37, described Braxton as a "sports fanatic." He had told his mother that he wanted to be a mechanic and a "family man."
"We're angry because right now there's nobody telling us anything," Kennedy said.
Police don't have any suspects in custody for the shooting, said Minneapolis police Sgt. Stephen McCarty. He said he did not know whether the attacker was aiming for Braxton or what the motive might have been. "It's just too early to tell," he said.
Homicides in the city are down in comparison to the same time last year, he said, but the age of the victim stands out. "Fourteen-year-olds don't typically get gunned down, whether it's intentional or not," McCarty said.
Yet the problem of youth violence in the neighborhood is well known to Albert Greene, program director at the Jerry Gamble branch of the Boys and Girls Club. "It happens too often," Greene said. "You're always hearing about some child catching a stray bullet."
Braxton came to the club almost every day and didn't get into trouble, Greene said.
Greene said that his club offers a refuge for youth but that he can't control what's happening on the streets. "We've got to figure out how to get these pistols off the street, get these pistols out of the hands of these babies," he said.
Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call the police tips line at 612-692-8477.
Staff writer Daarel Burnette II contributed to this report. Nicole Norfleet • 612-673-4495