, but it’s his laugh that will be most remembered by his classmates and teachers at .
“Tendai was in many ways the fun-loving guy for a lot of people,” said Phil Sandifer, one of Nhekairo's football coaches. “All the kids, that’s what they’ve talked about: his smile, his jokes. He’s just a regular teenage boy that lived life.”
According to , the Campbell senior was shot by a police officer Tuesday, March 27, after he attempted to feloniously assault an officer with knives. Officers were responding to a suspicious persons call at the teen’s apartment complex. The incident is still under investigation, and the officer involved has been placed on routine administrative leave while it is conducted.
“I think it was a shock and a surprise to everyone—very much so,” Campbell High School Principal Denise Magee said.
She said Campbell’s administrators shared the news with the community in a letter that was posted to the school’s Facebook and Twitter pages as well as its blog. Magee described the atmosphere at Campbell after the news as “emotional.”
She said some Campbell students organized a candlelight vigil in Nhekairo’s memory Wednesday.
“I was very pleased with the number of students, the number of parents who came out,” she said. "There were lots of positive comments and fond memories that we were able to share. I think it was a good healing opportunity for the students. It really meant a lot to the students that we gave them an avenue with which to express all these fond memories.”
Nhekairo was a wide receiver at Campbell during his sophomore and junior years. Sandifer recalled his impressions of Nhekairo as an athlete.
“We were sitting around as coaches one Sunday and talking about who are our most dependable kids and who are our hardest-working kids, and his name came up,” he said. “We pretty much designed our whole offensive package around him just because he consistently caught the ball and consistently worked hard. Mainly he had a level head that we knew we could trust. That’s been the thing that’s sticking out in my mind.”
One Campbell student chose to express his grief through poetry. Isaiah Hunter wrote a poem titled “Your Legacy,” which was printed in the Spartan Chronicles:
"I look around at the faces of my peers…
And it only serves to make me miss you more.
If anyone could have cheered us up,
I know it was definitely you.
The skill to make joy out of virtually nothing
is a rare talent…and it’s a talent that you had.
I was more than sad when I learned that
Such a bright light had been stolen away from us.
No fuss, no rage, no tears, just pain,
At the thought of no more Tendai laughs.
I could hear them in my head and the sound made me smile.
Yeah they were crazy, yeah they were loud,
But there’s no one earth who can replicate their style…
And for a while, I began to think back
On all the memories that I had of you.
Not for a second did that smile leave my face,
On the contrary I think it grew in size.
And then I realized
That everywhere you went,
And everywhere you were,
Sadness never followed,
And happiness would stir.
That was your legacy…
It wouldn’t be fair if
Any of us dared
To take that away from you.
So Tendai, when I think of you now,
It’s not with sadness, but with a smile,
Cause I believe that a smile speaks more about you
Than these silly words that I say from my mouth could ever do.
Rest in peace."
The funeral for Nhekairo is Thursday at 11 a.m. at First Baptist Church of Atlanta, 4400 N. Peachtree Rd. A fund has been established in memory of Nhekairo, and donations can be made using PayPal.