UPDATED: 14-year-old killed in Racine was a quiet kid with immense football talent | Crime and Courts

RACINE — He had so much potential. A quiet kid with immense talent, and his life was cut short.

A 14-year-old boy who was shot in the head Sunday night while sitting in the passenger seat of a vehicle that police said was stolen has died, the Racine Police Department reported Wednesday.

The Journal Times initially misidentified the victim of the shooting as a man.

March 13, 2022, shooting map

A teenager, later identified as Eugene “J.R.” T. Henderson Jr., was reported shot Sunday night in Racine. The teen was reported to have been shot in the head, was in critical condition as of Monday morning and died Tuesday, Racine Police reported. First (No. 1), Racine Police officers responded to the corner of 20th Street and Mead Street for a report of shots fired, but then soon after learned the shooting likely occurred on the 800 block of 18th Street (No. 2). Officers also responded to the 1900 block of Racine Street (No. 3) for a report of a man who had been shot. 

The teenager has been identified as Eugene “J.R.” T. Henderson of Racine, a ninth-grader who had already proven his talents on the football field as a youngster.

“He was one of those kids who was quiet at first,” said Trevor Niccolai, who coached Henderson when he was a 12-year-old and already a leader of the Kenosha Ramblers youth football team which won a league championship with him on the squad. “He doesn’t say a whole lot, but he ends up showing it on the field. Always showed manners, a very polite kid, extremely talented. One of the best players that we’ve had…

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“Football was very special to him,” Niccolai continued. “It was an escape for him.”

No arrests have been reported. The investigation remains ongoing, the RPD said.

The shooting occurred at about 10:15 p.m. Sunday, immediately south of Downtown Racine.

Fundraiser by Lashell Brown _ Funeral Arrangements for Eugene Henderson, Jr..png

14-year-old Eugene “J.R.” T. Henderson Jr. of Racine, who was shot Sunday and died Tuesday, is shown here.

According to a statement Monday morning from the RPD: “Information was gathered that the occupants of the stolen vehicle were involved in an altercation with occupants from another vehicle and shots were fired within the 800 block of Eighteenth Street.” Henderson was found about four blocks west and a block south of there.

A GoFundMe raising money to cover funeral costs can be donated to at gofund.me/9f6f8e4c.

The GoFundMe page says that Henderson was “shot for no reason.” Written by Henderson’s mother, the page description continues: “My family needs help to give him a meaningful funeral and burial. If you know J.R., you know he is a sensitive kid and was a fantastic football player. He loved me and always gave me kisses. I will miss him more than words can say. I would appreciate if you could all help me.”

According to his family, Henderson died Tuesday. It was the third homicide in Racine in 2022.

“It was definitely a shock,” Niccolai said. “Such a great kid, so young, to die so tragically. Very overwhelming and sad.”

A Facebook post from the Kenosha Ramblers reads: “Tragically, we have lost a member of our Ramblers Family. Eugene Henderson was only 14yrs old when he passed away. Eugene played several seasons with our program and was a great player, and an even better teammate to each team he was part of. Our football family grieves with his family and as a show of support, we are asking you all to please donate $9.00 for his funeral costs. #Donate9For9”

Another of Henderson’s coaches, Kevin Quijano, wrote on Facebook: “I am absolutely devastated. One of my best players I’ve ever coached was shot in the head and killed in Racine on Sunday night. He was only in 9th grade.”

A quick-footed ballcarrier, Quijano said that Henderson once scored all 40 of his team’s points one game.

“He always expected more from himself … He always expected the best from himself, especially from a 12-year-old at the time,” Niccolai said. “He was an absolute pleasure to coach, an unreal talent.”

CORRECTION: This story initially incorrectly stated that the Racine Police Department had previously identified Henderson as a man. It was The Journal Times, not the RPD, which had incorrectly reported that the victim was a man. The Journal Times apologizes for the error.

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