A 25-year-old cancer survivor and scholar about to begin doctoral studies in Chicago was shot to death within hours of his arrival in the violence-marred city.
Shane Colombo was caught in the crossfire of a gunfight around 8:30 p.m. Sunday evening, four hours after he stepped off a plane, his fiance, Vincent Perez told Oxygen.com. Shot in the abdomen, he was pronounced dead a local hospital.
“He was the most beautiful person in the world. He was ready to take it on,” Perez said. Then, referring to the shooters, he said “I just really hope that they come forward, and turn themselves in.”
Chicago police have yet to make an arrest in Colombo’s death, but they have released surveillance video of people that may have been involved, and are asking the public’s help identifying the men, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Six people were killed and another 28 wounded in shootings across Chicago over Labor Day weekend, including two girls, ages 11 and 17, according to ABC 7, the local ABC affiliate in Chicago.
Colombo, a California native who graduated from San Francisco State University in 2016 before becoming a researcher at Columbia University in New York, went to Chicago to attend Northwestern University for a Ph.D in clinical psychology, his mother, Tonya, told ABC news.
"I was very concerned about him coming out here, and he was killed within four hours of being in the city, four hours of stepping off that plane," she said.
"He beat cancer and he pushed himself through high school after missing a year," she added. "He pushed himself through college on his own. And came to Chicago to get his Ph.D. He got a full scholarship to Northwestern. He didn't depend on me to go to school. He depended on himself."
Northwestern President Morton Schapiro called Colombo's death a "terrible loss for our community."
Perez, Colombo’s fiance, said they met in 2012 at San Francisco State. Their first date was at a dance class. After, Colombo told Perez he was changing his minor to dance. Perez tried to talk him out of it, he told Oxygen.com, but Colombo insisted, and graduated with a dance minor.
Now, Perez says, San Francisco State told him they would establish a scholarship for minority dance students in Colombo’s memory. “He’s had nothing but a positive influence on people, in life and death," Perez said.
Minutes before Colombo was shot they talked via Skype.
"We Skyped and I told him like, 'You need to stay home. You need to rest. You just got in,'" Perez said. But Colombo insisted on going out and exploring his neighborhood. He texted Perez photos of the area before suddenly going silent.
"I got worried because he wasn't responding to my text," Perez said.
"I checked his location on my phone. We shared that. It showed he was in the hospital. I called the hospital and they said he’d just passed. I didn't get to say goodbye."
Perez says Colombo's death has left him full of “anger and despair and questioning.” But he said he's more interested in obtaining answers rather than extracting punishment from people who fired the shots that killed his fiance.
“Why?! What do you need in order to survive? Why do you need to defend yourselves in that manner?”
[Photo: courtesy Vincent Perez Twitter]