Dunbar freshman shot in Dayton was a champion, an All-American, coach says

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Combined ShapeCaption
Qua'Lek Shelton (middle) with his Dunbar High School track and field teammates. (Courtesy/Coach Sidney Booker)

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

The city lost a champion and All-American when Qua'Lek Shelton, the 15-year-old Dunbar freshman track man and football player, died Tuesday after being shot Sunday as he walked with friends on Catalpa Drive.

"He has been national champion almost every year through the age groups: 10 and under, 11 through 15 and 15/16 this summer, Dunbar Early College High School track coach Sidney Booker told News Center 7's Sean Cudahy on Tuesday night.

RELATED: Dunbar freshman who died was shot on Catalpa Drive

"We have a ready-made star who loved the sport" of track and field, Booker said of (Qua-LEEK). "He smiled all the time. He was just a happy-go-lucky kid who knew where his talent was."

Booker was there at the beginning, when Qua'Lek joined the Dunbar High School track team, and he was there at the end, with the family when the young man was pronounced dead.

Qua’Lek took the worst of the gunfire, suffering what Dayton police said were life-threatening injuries. The 16-year-old with him was reported Monday to be in good condition, police said.

"He was an innocent bystander. He was not the intended target," Booker said. "Someone drove by and started shooting."

Qua'Lek was hit in his neck, Booker said.

Police have not said whether any arrests have been made in the shooting.

RELATED: Police say 1 of 2 teens shot suffers life-threatening injuries

Sunday, post surgery, the assumption was that the young hurdler was going to recover from his injuries.

"The surgeon gave a good report," the coach said.

Monday, Booker said, a physician informed the family that the youngster's spine had been shattered and he was brain dead.

Booker said the principal invited him to address the track team at the school.

Combined ShapeCaption
Qua'Lek Shelton was an award-winning hurdler. (Courtesy/Facebook)

Qua'Lek Shelton was an award-winning hurdler. (Courtesy/Facebook)

Combined ShapeCaption
Qua'Lek Shelton was an award-winning hurdler. (Courtesy/Facebook)

"We hugged and we cried and we cried," he said. "I gave them a little talk about being the best you can be all the time because as young black men, we face a lot of challenges all the time."

Booker asked rhetorically how does one piece together the fact that someone you were with at McDonald's the night before, laughing and joking, is now gone.

"It's unbelievable," he said.

What was believable was Qua'Lek's rise to stardom in track and field, Booker said, finishing fifth as the only freshman among 50 entrants in the 60-meter hurdles final at Youngstown State University. He covered the hurdles in 8.93 seconds.

That was Saturday.

That was his first high school meet.

The horizon looked promising, the coach said.

"But this kid was 15 years old. He had his entire life in front of him. He would have went down in the history books at Dunbar High School and the city of Dayton as being one of the greatest athletes to ever step on a track,” Booker said.

"He had everything going for him. He wasn't wasting his talent. He knew what he wanted to do and he was doing it."

About the Author