A year and a half passed since Marquis Madden had seen his son, but he missed his flight by three minutes and instead found himself stuck last Friday on a seven-hour layover in Atlanta.
That’s when he learned that his 20-year-old son, Mark Madden, had become the victim of a fatal drive-by shooting at the front doorstep of his uncle’s East Palo Alto home.
“I heard the news while I was waiting, and it gave me time to deal with it,” Marquis said. “I don’t think I would of took it too well if I were to get off the plane, turn my phone on and see all this chaos.”
East Palo Alto police responded to reports of multiple shots fired at the 1100 block of Laurel Avenue at 5:08 p.m., where they found Madden shot and killed last Friday, according to Ralph Thomas, an East Palo Alto police detective.
A sophomore and biology major at SF State, Madden is remembered by his father as a straight-A student and active member of his church. He was the first member of his family to attend college and would read to younger children at the YMCA.
“A lot of kids looked up to him because he was just a great, courageous happy guy,” said Marquis. “He was a role model—just like a young Nelson Mandela cut down before his time.”
On Monday, a longtime friend approached memories inscribed on a bottle of Hennessy and a group of candles arranged in the shape of a heart, just feet from where gunshots struck and killed Madden.
“All my life he was there,” Millan said. “He’s made me who I am in showing me the world isn’t all bad. He was a friend when you needed him the most.”
Before college, Madden wrestled and played football at Sequoia High School in Redwood City, Calif. The SF State student was known for his honest nature and had ambitions of becoming a doctor.
“Last week we were talking about how he wanted to become a doctor and there was so much he wanted to get done,” said Javier Kirksey, who knew him for three years. “I heard about it on Friday and it’s just sad. He’s gone way too soon. That was my boy.”
Madden could often be found in the Gymnasium at SF State, where he played basketball during open gym hours.
“I was greatly saddened to hear of Mark Madden’s death, and shocked by the violence of the tragedy,” said SF State President Leslie E. Wong. “In higher education we focus on the future and on improving lives—when the future of one of our own is cut short, it is acutely painful.”
In a statement following the incident, Interim Dean of Students Mary Ann Begley encouraged grieving students to visit the Counseling and Psychological Services Center for support.
Police have opened an investigation into the incident and could not release any more information at this time. Anyone with additional information is encouraged to contact the East Palo Alto police.
“Words can’t really describe a person. You’re a three part being; heart, body and soul,” said Kirksey. “Mark was more than that. He was smart, blunt—not in a negative connotation, (but) in a positive way—and he was funny. He always had jokes.”
A GoFundMe has been established for individuals who would like to contribute to Madden’s memorial services at www.gofundme.com/markmaddenfund.