Family and friends held a memorial Thursday night for a gay Sri Lankan and Filipino man gunned down in what a friend described as an execution, reports CBS Chicago.
“I’m going to miss his smile and hugs,” said a family member named Jen. “I just hope Suraj rests in peace.”
According to Los Angles Blade, a gunman shot Suraj Mahadeva, 26, in the head as he stood on his friend’s porch in Chicago.
Althea Mahadeva told Block Club Chicago that the killer shot her brother in the back of the head. Both the police and the coroner’s office declined to confirm that.
“Only a coward could do something like that from behind,” she said. “If you saw him from the front, saw his smile, it was so infectious.”
Friends remember Suraj as a proud Filipino and Sri Lankan who was a strong advocate for the LGBTQ community. He graduated with a degree in neuroscience and worked as a medical clinician. He also volunteered for Asian American Advancing Justice, Chicago.
“Suraj was an active member of queer, Filipinx, and South Asian communities across Chicago and the Midwest,” the group said in a statement. “He fought for racial and gender justice, including joining Advancing Justice | Chicago and other allies in direct actions for our collective liberation over the past 2 years. We are holding his family, friends, and loved ones in our hearts.”
A friend described Suraj’s death as possibly an “execution-style murder.”
“The question is who and why, and I am hopeful that we will find that answer so that the family could have some peace,” said J. Saxon-Maldonado to CBS Chicago.
A Go Fund Me page set up by cousin Anika Mahadeva and Christina Buckler has raised more than $22,000 in 24 hours.
“I really can’t stress this enough, but Suraj was one of the best people I knew,” wrote Mahadeva. “Whenever he smiled you’d smile too, and he’d make you laugh harder than anyone else. He lit up every room he was in. Suraj’s name means “Rising Sun”. Anyone that has known Suraj, knows that he shined brightly and gave a sense of warmth and joy like the Sun to everyone around him.”
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