North Central University hosts Deshaun Hill Jr. funeral

program for Deshaun Hill funeral service held by a man sitting with a hand raised.
March 17, 2022
Trigger warning: Gun violence

On February 22, North Central University hosted a memorial service on campus for Deshaun Hill Jr., a 15-year-old high school student athlete, who was shot near North High School.

Hill was shot at the corner of Golden Valley Road and Penn Avenue on February 9. He was pronounced dead at North Memorial Medical Center the next day. Minneapolis police have arrested and charged 29-year-old Cody Fohrenkam with one count of intentional second-degree murder.

Deshaun Hill Jr. was a student and star quarterback at North High School in Minneapolis. He was the focus of an in-progress documentary on the North High football team. Now, the documentary will shift to honoring his life and impact on the surrounding community. 

Hill, a sophomore at North High, was also an honor roll student. Laurice Walker, organizer of a GoFundMe page for Hill’s family, wrote, “This is not the story of a kid getting caught up in the streets, quite the contrary. Deshaun is…what many have described as a ‘perfect’ kid.”

Larry McKenzie, head coach of the North High basketball team wrote on Twitter,  “The pain of watching my kids in tears over the loss of a teammate and friend is so difficult. A man of many words all of a sudden is speechless and doesn’t know what to say.” 

McKenzie recently spoke in chapel at NCU to help announce the esports program. North High will be one of the schools participating in the after-school program giving high school students the opportunity to play esports on North Central’s campus. McKenzie’s connection with NCU is the primary reason why the Hill family chose North Central to host Deshaun Hill Jr.’s funeral.

The university alerted students by email of the funeral taking place on campus five days before the event. Students were then given the opportunity to serve as volunteers during the memorial service. Due to a snowstorm the day of the funeral, the university switched all in-person classes to online. Students were still allowed to walk through the upper atrium during the service held in the Lindquist Sanctuary to access the cafeteria, library and residence halls.

Eunice Vogne, a greeter, said the service went well, but she did not expect the amount of people that attended. “I didn’t think that the room would overflow. Every single seat was packed in the main chapel.” Vogne said the university opened up Anderson chapel to stream the service for the overflow of people.

Vogne, a PSEO student, gave her primary reason for volunteering. “For a Christian college to be able to host a memorial service dedicated to a young high school student that got killed…it’s really powerful and beautiful and I wanted to be a part of that in any way I could.”

Lindquist Sanctuary overflows with student athlete’s grieving community