Tragedy Strikes Twice: Vibrant Fourth Grader Loses Life to Gun Violence Years After Mother’s Death

Tragedy Strikes Twice: Vibrant Fourth Grader Loses Life to Gun Violence Years After Mother’s Death
Serabi Medina's favorite color was purple, her family said. Courtesy Jaleesa Medina

Serabi Medina, a nine-year-old Chicago resident, lost her life to gun violence five years after her mother suffered the same fate.

In a heartbreaking continuation of gun violence that has plagued America, a young fourth grader with a vibrant spirit and bright red hair has lost her life, just five years after witnessing her mother’s death in a similar incident. Serabi Medina was shot and killed while returning home from buying ice cream in front of her Chicago home, allegedly by her neighbor.

Every morning, Madelyn Cedeno, a teacher assistant at Peter A. Reinberg Elementary School, would hope to see Serabi running late, her playful smile lighting up the start of the school day. Serabi and Cedeno had formed a special bond over their ginger hair when Serabi began kindergarten. “We were the gingers of Reinberg,” Cedeno fondly recalled.

Their bond was evident in their daily interactions, where Serabi would tell Cedeno she loved her before walking into school. The two had plans for the upcoming school year to be fantastic. However, their dreams were cut short when Serabi was killed less than a week after they last saw each other in early August.

Serabi Medina, seen here in an undated picture. Courtesy Jaleesa Medina

According to the Gun Violence Archive, at least 1,400 children and teens have been killed by firearms in 2023, making firearms the number one killer of young people in America since 2020. Serabi had just returned from a nearby ice cream truck, carrying two ice creams – one for herself and one for her father – when she was allegedly approached by neighbor Michael Goodman, who is accused of shooting her in the head. Goodman has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder charges and is being held without bond.

Kathryn Lisco, Goodman’s public defender, told CNN that Goodman has a documented history of mental health issues. She questioned how Goodman was able to legally obtain a gun despite his mental health history.

The loss of Serabi has left her family devastated, as they await justice in court. Serabi was the “light” of her father, Michael Medina’s life, especially after he lost Serabi’s mother to gun violence five years ago. The police investigation into the mother’s death is still ongoing, with no suspect in custody.

Serabi with her mother, Blanca, and brother, John, seen in an undated picture. Courtesy John Hogue Jr.

Serabi was known for her happy and active nature, love for animals, and passion for YouTube. She would often dress up during Halloween, with last year’s theme being Ghostbusters. She was also creative, spending time braiding her hair and putting on press-on nails.

Her principal, Edwin Loch, recalled how she would light up a room with her big smile, and how she always wanted to bring people together for fun. To honor her memory, Loch organized a candlelight service, asking everyone to wear her favorite color, purple.

Serabi’s family remembers her as wise beyond her years, always offering comfort to those who needed it most. Her half-brother, John Hogue Jr., saw her as his baby sister, someone who often took care of him despite being the younger sibling. Her half-sister, Lacey Tatro, called her “my best friend.”

A memorial for Serabi is being prepared at her school, where faculty members are still grappling with the loss. Her father misses their daily routines and the time they spent together, especially after losing Serabi’s mother. John, her half-brother, finds it difficult to visit her resting place, as it brings back painful memories of losing his mother and sister.

This tragic incident highlights the urgent need to address gun violence in America, especially when it comes to children and teens, who are losing their lives at an alarming rate.