Gun ViolenceSpecial Report
Donna Hall and her granddaughter, Serenity. (Photo/Josclynn Brandon)
By Angelica Robinson and Josclynn Brandon
Posted: Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Donna Hall never thought in a million years that she would be writing her
child’s obituary. But she was.
After a belated birthday celebration at Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, Marshall Fields-Hall said goodbye to his mother and grandfather one last time before heading out on a Friday night in mid-January.
“He put his jacket on and said 'I’ll be back,' and my father told him, ‘Be careful out there in them streets,’ ” Donna Hall said.
Two hours later, Donna said she heard someone banging on her front door. She knew something was wrong.
“That’s not normal because [the neighbors] know I have a doorbell,” she said.
Donna’s neighbor came to tell her that her son had been in an accident at Popeye’s restaurant, just blocks away from their Austin home. She frantically waved down a neighbor to watch her granddaughter—Marshall’s 6-month-old daughter.
She ran the four blocks to the Popeye’s Chicken and Biscuits on the 5500 block of W. North Avenue without shoes or a coat.
“I saw so many police cars and yellow tape,” Hall said. “I was just asking, ‘What happened? Where’s my son?’”
Audio: Listen to Donna Hall tell the story in her own words.
Marshall had already been taken to Stroger Hospital. She waited for the news on her son’s condition. She kept telling herself her son would be OK.
“My pastor came over and I just knew it,” she said. “I just lost it.”
On Jan. 18, her son Marshall, was shot and killed with a handgun in that restaurant. It was just a couple weeks after his 21st birthday.
Hall said authorities told her that Marshall was in the restaurant talking to friends. The gunman came to the window and shot four times. The coroner told her one shot went straight through his back to his heart.
He was the 28th person killed in Chicago from gun violence in 2013. January’s 43 homicides were the highest for that month in a decade.
“That was my baby,” Hall said. “I only had two kids. Now I only have one.”
Marshall was the youngest of her two children. He attended Gordon Tech High School, where he was a running back for the football team until his sophomore year. At 18, he was convicted of burglary and spent nine months in boot camp.
After that, Marshall decided the streets weren't for him, his mother said. He got an apartment and launched a janitorial business with his cousin cleaning day cares in the south suburbs.
Police say Marshall is a documented gang member. But Donna said she never knew her son to be in a gang, and too often people are labeled as a gang members just because of a prior criminal conviction.
"I'm not saying my child was perfect," she said. "I'm saying my child didn't deserve to die the way he did."
She described Marshall as being a loving, charismatic person who liked to make people laugh. He was very close with his family and was crazy about his daughter. She said people who come in contact with him couldn't help but to like him.
"If you met him you would fall in love with him because he was a charmer," she said. "Everyone would tell you that."
Donna Hall holds a picture of her son, Marshall. She held this same picture during a rally and march for victims of gun violence. (Photo/Josclynn Brandon)
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