STERLING – It was a sweet, and now poignant tweet, from a boy dozens of residents are calling a good kid on social media sites:
“When someone says I love you, appreciate it ... Don’t take it for granted because one day they might not be around anymore to say it ...”
Matt Anderson sent that message Jan. 26.
Saturday, Matt died, shot by “a close friend” in the home of a District 1 State Police trooper.
Matt was a freshman at Rock Falls High School, where counselors and others were on hand Monday to help students and staff grieve.
“Rock Falls Township High School is saddened by the accidental death of one of our students on Saturday, March 1,” RFHS Superintendent Ron McCord said in an emailed statement Sunday.
“A freshman student was accidentally shot and killed while at the home of a close friend.
“A crisis team has been mobilized and additional counseling and support services will be available to both students and staff members before, during and after school hours on Monday, March 3, 2014, and beyond if necessary.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those in our community who are affected by this tragedy,” the statement said.
A Facebook page devoted to Matt, who recently turned 15, was created Saturday. Among the messages of condolences was posted the suggestion that people wear black and green, RFHS colors, today in memory of the young basketball player. Montmorency School sent out a text alert Sunday night asking its students to do so.
According to a verbal statement provided Saturday night by Illinois State Police Lt. Victor Markowski, interim commander for Zone 2 investigations:
“Illinois State Police officials are confirming that an accidental shooting occurred in District 1 at the residence of an ISP trooper at approximately 11:40 a.m. today (Saturday).
“Based on preliminary investigative details, the accidental shooting incident involved two male teenagers. One of the male teenagers unrelated to the trooper’s family suffered a fatal gunshot wound.
“The matter remains under investigation, and no further information is available at this time.”
Markowski declined to provide any further details Saturday or Sunday, including the names, ages or hometowns of the boys involved, where the boy was shot or in which town the shooting occurred, and whether an arrest had been made.
In an email Sunday, Whiteside County Coroner Joe McDonald confirmed “Matthew Anderson, 15, was pronounced dead shortly before noon Saturday March 1, 2014.”
He also provided no additional details, including cause or location of death.
Markowski did say that despite the apparent involvement of an ISP officer, “We are treating this matter as we would any investigation.”
District 1, headquartered in Sterling, serves Whiteside, Lee, Ogle and Carroll counties. Zone 2, headquartered in Rockford, handles patrol and other ISP issues in those four counties and eight others.