Denfeld News

July 14, 2009
Duluth News Tribune

Family remembers shooting victim as trusting, kind
By Brandon Stahl

To Katie Cooney, Curtis was the best brother in the world; to his parents, the best son they could ever ask for. But to Michael Curtis Cooney, who will be 2 next month, he was just Dah-dah.

On Monday, the day after his father was gunned down, Michael asked several times where his Dah-dah was, but no one really knew what to tell him.

“We have no idea what to say,” said Curtis’ mother, Heidi Cooney.

“We’ll try to be Curtis for him,” Katie Cooney said.

The Cooneys said Monday they lost someone who was loving, trusting and willing to do anything for anybody.

“I don’t know anybody that didn’t like Curtis who met Curtis,” Katie Cooney said. “We’ve literally seen him give someone the shirt off his back.”

His record wasn’t spotless, however. According to St. Louis County District Court records, Curtis Cooney was convicted in November of first-degree burglary and first-degree burglary with a dangerous weapon. He was placed on five years’ probation.

His parents said Cooney, who graduated in 2005 from Denfeld, was perhaps too trusting. He had a mild form of autism and often didn’t distinguish between people who were safe to be with and those who weren’t, they said.

“Everybody was a good person in Curtis eyes,” said his father, Michael Cooney. “He didn’t see the dangers in things.”

That’s perhaps why he was with “a friend of a friend,” his parents said, at a gathering in the Central Hillside on Sunday night.

“I told him, you’re going to be at the wrong place at the wrong time,” his mother said. “And that’s what happened.”

By all accounts, Curtis Cooney was at the apartment for about an hour and had nothing to do with an earlier scuffle in the neighborhood. His family said a doctor told them the gunshot to the back of his head left him brain damaged almost immediately and his body shut down soon after.

“There was nothing they could have ever done,” his father said.

The pain from Curtis Cooney’s death was still raw Monday, as family and friends gathered at the home on the 500 block of 27th Avenue West where he grew up and was living with his parents and helping to raise his son.

“We were a very, very tight family,” his dad said.

Because Cooney spent Sunday with friends, the last time his family saw him was Saturday, they said — unusual, because they normally saw him every day. Now they’re wondering how to cope without him.

“I can’t cope with it,” said Katie Cooney. “It’s just so unfair that somebody would cold-blooded murder my brother.”

“I hope they realize that Curtis son will never know him,” she said.

His mother said knowing her son had faith in God will ease her pain.

“He was such a wonderful human being,” she said. “And I’m grateful God gave him to us for as long as he did.”

Said his dad: “I’ll keep him alive through my heart and through my grandson.”

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