Students, professors share memories of late senior


Mary Ellen Greenburg

Students console one another after a moment of silence was held for Byron Edingburg, the Eastern Illinois student that was killed in a shooting over the weekend.

Kalyn Hayslett and Cassie Buchman


A vivid memory James Bateman, a senior communication studies major, has of senior Byron Edingburg is seeing him dance across the quad.

Seeing his joy made Bateman start dancing, too.

This and other aspects of Edingburg’s fun personality are what Bateman said he will miss about his friend.

Edingburg, set to graduate May 6, was pronounced dead early Saturday morning at Carle Hospital in Urbana, after a shooting during a party on Seventh Street.

One thing Jaccari Brown, a graduate student in communication studies, always admired about Edingburg was how funny he was.

“He could say something serious that could mean a lot of things and he always did it in a way that was so heartfelt and relaxed,” said Brown, whose friendship with Edingburg started two years ago.

Bateman said Edingburg was always the life of the party.

“No matter what situation he was in, he would always have fun. No matter how big the party was or how small the party was, you always knew Byron was there,” Bateman said.

Bateman said Edingburg had the ability to make everyone comfortable around him.

“No matter who you were or what situation you (had) in life, if you were friends with Byron you were his people,” Bateman said. “We had white, we had Hispanic, we had Asian, we had Korean friends and we would all party at the same time. There would be some language barriers, but outside of that, we would just all hang out together (and) there would be no issues.”

Edingburg’s love for different cultures was evident when he studied abroad in South Korea, where he was exposed to another language and immersed himself in another culture.

Brown said Edingburg was planning to join the Peace Corps after graduation and then go to a country in Africa to earn his master’s degree.

While Edingburg enjoyed meeting people, Brown said, he was still very focused on his studies.

Edingburg was even scheduled to give a presentation in economics professor Ahmed Abou-Zaid’s Theory and Research class Tuesday.

Abou-Zaid said Edingburg’s presentation on the population of tuna fish and why it was declining significantly was something he was excited about.

Unlike some students, who seem disinterested in presenting their papers, Abou-Zaid said Edingburg was “fired up” when giving his presentation.

This passion did not go unnoticed, Abou-Zaid said. Edingburg ended up impressing the economics faculty as well as the dean and associate dean of the College of Sciences.

“The day of the presentation he was taking a selfie with the poster, he was smiling, he was open to life,” Abou-Zaid said.

Tuesday will be the first day Abou-Zaid will teach the seven-member class since Edingburg’s death.

“You can see how much people liked him…If I say I am shocked it is not enough,” Abou-Zaid said. “It’s a great loss.”

Peter Andrews, a mathematics and computer science professor, had Edingburg in his linear algebra class three years ago.

“I remember him very clearly,” Andrews said. “I can’t say that about all my students.”

Andrews remembers Edingburg as a pleasant, hard-working student who came regularly to office hours when the subject did not come easy to him.

“I loved to see him come in, he was a pleasure,” Andrews said. “He was easy to get along with, he participated in class, was a hard-worker. He took it seriously.”

Brown said Edingburg had many redeeming qualities.

“He was a scholar, he was an activist, but he was a friend before all of that,” Brown said. “He definitely was the kind of person who enjoyed every bit of life to the fullest extent and it’s sad to see someone like that get taken away.”

Brown said he was hurt when he read comments on Facebook blaming his friend for the shooting and African-Americans in general for the crime.

“They’re glorifying his death just to perpetuate a racist stigma. I hate that so much. It’s so disgusting,” Brown said. “It’s so dehumanizing to try to make my friend, who is so smart and has done so many good things, a poster child to fit this narrative of yours that all black people are bad.”

Brown said it is unfair to group all African-Americans in the same category of gangsters, hoodlums, murderers and drug dealers.

“They really need to stop letting the action of the bad few try to represent all of us,” Brown said. “A lot of the African-American students who are from Chicago are here to get our education first and progress with the community second.”

Bateman said he remembers Edingburg being a peacekeeper.

“If you were upset about something he would listen to you, make a joke, you would laugh and you would get over it. That’s the Byron I remember and that’s what I want people to remember,” Bateman said.

Bateman and Brown were both first notified about the shooting via Snapchat and both experienced instant denial when hearing about it.

Brown said he could not stop checking his phone because he was expecting to get a call from Edingburg asking him to pick him up from the party.

After getting several phone calls and looking at different Snapchat stories, Bateman said he could not even leave his bed.

Detective Joel Shute, from the Charleston Police Department, said the police are focusing on collecting the information on the crime in whatever form that might be.

“We’re talking to people, we’re developing names,” he said.

The CPD has received some videos of the scene shot on mobile devices and witness accounts as well.

“Our primary strategy is to take nothing for granted,” Shute said.

The most definitive information about the suspect Shute said he could give out is that they have not been captured.

Shute said it is not very often an incident like this will occur and that there has not been a homicide of this nature, especially in a college setting, in a long time.­


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