• Suraj Mahadeva. Photo: GoFundMe

Funeral Held in Michigan For Former Plymouth Local, 26-Year-Old Suraj Mahadeva, a Queer Man Shot and Killed in Chicago

Mahadeva was active in Michigan, Chicago LGBTQ+ communities

By |2021-12-30T10:08:54-05:00December 22nd, 2021|Michigan, News|

A funeral mass was held at St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Canton on Dec. 21 for Suraj Mahadeva, a 26-year-old former Plymouth resident who was shot and killed on Dec. 11.

Various news outlets report that Mahadeva was standing in front of a friend’s Chicago home in the city’s Palmer Square neighborhood when he was shot. “[Mahadeva] was discovered with a gunshot wound to his head by his friend, who heard a loud sound about 3:25 a.m.,” reports the Chicago Sun Times.

At press time, no arrests have been made, and it is not known if the killing was a random act of violence or if Mahadeva was the target of an attack. But his friend J. Saxon-Maldonado called it an “execution-style murder,” according to WGN9. “The question is who and why, and I am hopeful that we will find that answer so that the family could have some peace.”

According to WGN9 Mahadeva moved to [Chicago] after graduating from Michigan State University in 2018, where he majored in neuroscience with a minor in dance.

A GoFundMe has been set up by Anika Mahadeva, who identifies herself as Mahadeva’s cousin.

“Suraj’s name means ‘Rising Sun.’ Anyone that has known Suraj knows that he shined brightly and gave a sense of warmth and joy like the Sun to everyone around him,” Anika Mahadeva wrote on GoFundMe. “He really cared about helping others, and it showed in his work and passions. Suraj was a dedicated medical clinician at a dermatology office in which he was aspiring to become a physician’s assistant. He was passionate about his Sri Lankan and Filipino cultural heritage and was an active member in both the Asian and LGBTQ community.”

The campaign has exceeded its $25,000 goal at the time of this writing. 

“I had the pleasure of knowing Suraj through dance at Michigan State University,” a GoFundMe contributor identified as Lana Grasser wrote. “He was talented, kind, funny, and always brought a smile to my face with both his words and his dance. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to know him and to have witnessed his talents and gifts. It is a heartbreaking loss, and all my love goes out to his family, his friends, and everyone else who has been touched by his life in some way.” 

Mahadeva was a member of Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago, which released a Dec. 15 statement about his death: “Suraj had his whole life ahead of him and we are heartbroken that his life was cut short. Suraj was an active member of queer, Filipinx, and South Asian communities across Chicago and the Midwest. He fought for racial and gender justice, including joining Advancing Justice | Chicago and other allies in direct actions for our collective liberation over the past 2 years. We are holding his family, friends, and loved ones in our hearts. Advancing Justice | Chicago will continue to work in solidarity with other communities of color toward long-term solutions to end gun violence.”

Community members held a memorial vigil for Mahadeva at the Center on Halsted, Chicago’s LGBTQ+ community center, on Dec. 16. According to WGN9, over 100 people attended the event. 

During a television news interview with CBS Chicago, Saxon-Maldonado said of the person responsible, “If they’re watching, I want them to know that we will find you. And we will get justice.”

Anyone with information can leave an anonymous tip with the Chicago Police Department.

About the Author:

D'Anne Witkowski
D'Anne Witkowski is a writer living in Michigan with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBTQ+ politics for nearly two decades. Follow her on Twitter @MamaDWitkowski.