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Miles Turner was always “looking after the underdog” and “there to protect guys,” his high school football coach said.
On Saturday, the Leo High School senior’s actions were no different.
The 350-pound offensive lineman was seriously injured trying to block bullets from hitting his younger cousin, Richard Modell, a purported gang member fatally shot outside a Woodlawn gathering, officials said.
The cousins had just arrived at a gathering in the 6300 block of South Rhodes when a gunman walked up to the front porch and opened fire, said a young woman who lived at the home and asked to remain anonymous.
She said the gathering started as a “ladies night” to celebrate her last weekend in Chicago before returning to Western Illinois University following fall break. Turner, who took the woman to prom, and Modell came to visit later.
Modell, 17, was shot in the upper body at 9:20 p.m., police said. Turner, 18, “leaped in to save him and got himself shot,” said Michael Holmes, Leo football coach.
A police source said Modell was a known gang-member and detectives are investigating if a rival gang member targeted him in retaliation. Turner had no known gang affiliations, police said.
Turner, 6-foot-1, was shot in the legs multiple times and taken in serious condition to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, authorities said. Leo President Dan McGrath said Turner was the second student shot this year. Incoming freshman Antonio Davis was enrolled in summer programs when he was shot dead in July.
Holmes described Turner as a “gentle giant” who hoped to play college football as an offensive lineman. It is unclear whether his injuries will keep him from playing.
Turner had been sidelined most of the season with a concussion but was recently cleared to return this week for Senior Night, Holmes said. Turner is now done for the season and will “focus on walking across the stage for graduation,” McGrath said.
“Miles [is] really a very well-liked guy … He is the kind of kid who went out of his way to be friendly and polite. He even went out of his way to say hello to the ladies in the office,” McGrath said.