By DAVID STRUETT
Homicide Watch Chicago
The tragedy is that 26-year-old James McChristian was leading a good life when he was fatally shot in Auburn Gresham last summer, according to his cousin, Anthony Williams.
“When he first had kids, I was worried because he didn’t have his things together,” said Williams, 36. But that changed and he came to respect McChristian for correcting his path and caring for his kids as if nothing else mattered.
“He was a man, a father,” he said of McChristian, who had two daughters and a son. “He took it on his own to be that type of man.”
McChristian was sitting on his porch early morning Sunday, Sept. 17 at the 8300 block of South Hermitage when three people exited a car behind the house and fired on him and three others, police said.
He was shot in the chest and abdomen and was later pronounced dead at Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, according to police.
McChristian was called “BJ” by his mother—short for “Baby James.” When he got older, he took on the name “Beeg” because “he wanted to lose the ‘baby,’” Williams said.
“People should remember James for his commitment to his kids,” Williams said. “I took his kids to Odyssey Fun World and his son was like, ‘I want you to call me B.J. from now on.’ That’s a testament to the love his kids have for him.”
McChristian’s brother, Martell McChristian, said he was almost never separate from James. His family was shocked to hear about his death, he said.
“In my family, this really hit home,” Martell said. “Nobody in our family had ever been taken away from gun violence. Why is it James McChristian?”
He remembered his brother as someone without enemies.
“He’s not a bad person,” McChristian said of his brother James. “I was on his Facebook page and you can see that. From the start until now, there’s no threats on there.”
McChristian was also quite the handyman and always offered to help to others, according to Williams.
“He was what you would call a Renaissance man, a jack-of-all-trades,” Williams said.
Williams bought a house with a broken swimming pool in the backyard. “When James came over, he said ‘We’re going to figure out how to fix it,’” he said.
Williams related how he paid a pool repairman to come and explain what repairs were needed. After the repairman left, “James said, ‘Man, you don’t have to give anyone 200 bucks again. I memorized everything he just said.’ And he did,” Williams said.
They fixed the pool themselves and then began other home renovations.
“I’ll be honest, he did everything in my house,” Williams said.
Beyond lowering the ceiling in his cousin’s “man cave” and fixing his roof, McChristian was eager to help his older cousin, honing the home improvement skills he acquired along the way.
“He just wanted to learn how to do things—how to be in the know,” Williams said. “He took pride in being helpful.”
Martell felt defeated when he thought about who killed his brother.
“My parents are hurt. They want justice,” McChristian said. “I don’t expect justice. My mother do, my family do… But if there was justice you would’ve already found him. There’s a camera at our corner. They would’ve already found him.”
McChristian said he is holding himself together with thoughts of his brother.
“I’m still maintaining. I’ve still got my bother with me. I’m remaining humble,” he said. “I wouldn’t hate nobody else, pick up a gun, and take somebody else’s just because he gone. Hell no. He’d never want me to do that.”
McChristian just wants people to know “Beeg” for the man he was.
“I want them to remember him for the loving person he is: an outstanding brother, outstanding parent, friend, cousin, nephew,” he said.