Slain son of Chicago police officer thought he'd escaped cycle of violence

CHICAGO -- Arshell Dennis spoke about growing up in Chicago just last year.

"It's a pretty nice place. I like it, I grew up there. It's kinda bad being a youth there, but you know it teaches you a lot of stuff," he said.

"I do appreciate the fact that I am where I am. A lot of people don't make it out."

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Arshell Dennis

Kyle DePine

But in his case, the lesson came at a terrible price.

The 19-year-old son of a Chicago policeman was shot to death as he and a friend sat on the front steps of his mother's home. He was hours away from returning to St. John's University in New York, where he was studying to be a journalist.

Instead he became the 436th person slain in the city this year.

Police don't know the motive yet, but sources say gang initiations were happening in his neighborhood over the weekend. Aspiring members were told to quote "go kill whoever you find."

"That's a rite of passage for them. Now how bizarre is that?" said police superintendent Eddie Johnson.

He was once a patrolman with the young man's father, Officer Chico Dennis, who Johnson says is now inconsolable.

"It just goes to show you how violent crime can reach out and touch you when you least expect it," Johnson said.

"Here you got a man who was raising a son to be a man -- doing what he was supposed to be doing. He simply came home to visit his mother, and then this happens," he continued.

The superintendent told us he is confident there will be an arrest in this case. "We are going to catch them," he said. "This is personal."

  • Dean Reynolds

    Dean Reynolds is a CBS News National Correspondent based in Chicago.