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Why was Purcell Marian junior's life cut short by shooting in Evanston?

Posted at 3:23 PM, Mar 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-05 23:07:35-05

CINCINNATI -- Gregory Thompson Jr.'s life story was, in many ways, the same as generations of Cincinnatians.

He went to a Catholic grade school, then on to a Catholic high school. He played football there, earning honors as junior varsity player of the year.

That story was cut short late Friday, when Thompson was killed at a home in the city's Evanston neighborhood. He was 17 years old.

It was the second time in three years somebody gunned down a Purcell Marian High School student: Kelsie Crowe, 17, was shot as she drove away from a Sweet 16 party at the Melrose YMCA in Walnut Hills. No one has been convicted of the crime.

And like Crow, Thompson's death has left his relatives, classmates and mentors wondering why.

Thompson came from a family deeply embedded in the city's Catholic community. He attended St. Joseph School, on Ezzard Charles Drive in the West End. His mother is the principal.

Gregory Thompson Jr., when he was a freshman at Roger Bacon High School. (Photo provided by Mike Blaut)

For his freshman year of high school, he went to Roger Bacon in St. Bernard. He was a running back on the football team. He left and spent his sophomore year in Louisville; when he came back to Cincinnati, he enrolled at Purcell Marian last fall. That's where his great-uncle, Bill Cross, had been a longtime chaplain.

"So many folks have said already, 'Oh, I know the family,' or 'I know the mom,' or 'I've met Gregory,' or things along those lines," Purcell principal Andy Farfsing said. "There's significant connection."

At Purcell, Thompson built relationships with classmates, teachers and staff. Sometimes, administrators get to know a particular student because of disciplinary issues. That wasn't the case with Thompson, Farfsing said: Instead, he'd pop into the principal's office every day just to talk.

"Conversations could be everything from grades in chemistry class to wow, the front yard looks nice because the leaves got raked up -- stuff like that," Farfsing said.


Because of transfer rules, Thompson couldn't play sports at Purcell this year but still became friends with many of the athletes. Particularly, Farfing said Thompson was close with the basketball team. Farfsing and others had to go tell the team about what happened after Friday night's game.

The school had 13 counselors on hand Monday to help classmates cope with their grief. The adults are spending their time listening to students, and praying with them.

Farfsing hope parents will talk to their children about it, too.

"They'll tell us things, but they'll also tell their parents other things, and it's great for the school to have good communication back and forth," he said.