Legendary Chicago Journalist ZackTV Fatally Shot and Murdered In Chicago
“Not all heros wear capes”.
While seemingly cliché, the age old adage had never been more applicable than when it comes to the life and works of Zack Stoner.
Known to most as ZackTV, Stoner was a prominent Chicago journalist/vlogger who’s claim to fame was providing a platform for many Chicago artists that most mainstream media outlets would notoriously avoid. In fact, Stoner was credited with giving many such as Chief Keef, G Herbo, Lil Dirk to name a few, some of first on-air exposure to mainstream America ,helping make a name for the famed Drill style of music on the commercial stage.
Stoner, 30, was gunned down in his vehicle early Wednesday morning In Chicago’s South Loop neighborhood after leaving concert at a nearby nightclub.
According to authorities, Stoner took several shots to both the head and neck before his vehicle crashed into a nearby light pole. He was immediately rushed to Northwestern Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead shortly after.
Footage captured at the scene by one twitter user @Aarond shows Stoner’s vehicle motionless as several unidentified persons flee the scene and one male yells “let’s go” as they pile into another vehicle, speeding away.
Madeline I have a video of people yelling and fleeing the scene in a vehicle moments after the shooting pic.twitter.com/BAKhaD2AR4
— Aaron Dunlap 🗽 (@aarond) May 30, 2018
30 year old man dead in Printers Row shooting on Clark btwn Harrison & Polk. He was the driver of this silver Jeep that crashed into a light pole after he was shot in the head & neck. @WGNNews @WGNMorningNews pic.twitter.com/wzSuxBZxwV
— Courtney Gousman (@cgousman) May 30, 2018
The video made almost immediate rounds on social media, causing many of the artists he’d impacted to take to twitter and Instagram either in disbelief or to pay tribute to Stoner, with an outpouring of both love and appreciation for his impact and rage for the unknown assailants responsible for his death.
First person to give me a chance. First person to interview me. #ZackTV
— LAKA (@LakaFilms) May 30, 2018
RIP to ZackTV. He helped me out alot giving me 2 interviews plus advice n help on my channel, always encouraged me n supported me from the start. I owe him alot. Im prayed up and ready to go cuz every public person in chicago is a target. RIP Zack BIP Forever 🙏🙏
— Chicago World News (@Provatakis) May 30, 2018
From when Zack interviewed me, I brought with a bunch of artists I was tryna put on, he let em shine. He was the Goat period, aint gonna be another ZackTv pic.twitter.com/yzN0RBGmBK
— Chicago World News (@Provatakis) May 31, 2018
Im So Sick of this City thats Why i Never Stay In Dis Hell Hole. 💯 Zack Tv You know what You did for the City Bro You Know the Talks we Had I seen u Last Night So Ima cherish dat Handshake u gave Me after i Performed 🙌🏾 Rest Up Bro 🤯 Your soul was So Pure @TheRealZacktv1 🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/GRL0ONYhXy
— Swagg Dinero (@SwaggDinero) May 30, 2018
I really respected what #ZackTV was doing and I watched his interviews daily and his IG lives when he was educating us about some real shit 😔
— JohnGlockton (@ProdbyJbandz) May 30, 2018
RIP ZackTV — a dope Chicago journalist
— Andrew Barber (@fakeshoredrive) May 30, 2018
I ain't see nobody in Chicago take a kid off the street , treat him like family buy him kicks food all that Shit just to let lil homie know SOMEBODY OUT HERE CARE ABOUT YOU. @TheRealZacktv1 #ZackTv was a real dude for that and Chicago needed him real talk 💯
— Keyshon Santana (@ShonDouble0G) May 30, 2018
If it wasn’t for Zack, half these Chicago rappers now wouldn’t even be on the map 🤦🏾♂️ RIP #zacktv
— Phase1BRose 🤐💯🏀 (@bw1426) May 30, 2018
Drawn by his raw and uncut look into the Chicago music scene and street culture, Stoner’s YouTube Channel, @ZackTV1 amassed over 178,000 subscribers, and hosts almost 1,700 videos since its inception in 2009.
In an April 2018 interview, Stoner tells the Chicago Defender , “I wanted to show the world what the other side of Chicago looks like…our culture––the way we dress, what we eat, how we talk, how we walk.” He continues, “I wanted to show the world the other side of Chicago. Back when I was growing up, we had Common and Kanye West. Those are great brothers and great entertainers, but I didn’t think they represented Chicago the way that I’ve seen Chicago.”
Through his life’s work, Stoner was not only an advocate for Chicago artists but also used his platform as leverage to encourage peace in communities riddled with rival gang war and violence.
In the same Defender interview, Stoner’s mentor Tony Woods adds, “There have been many occasions where a guy will call Zack on his way ride on his opps (slang for enemies) and Zack would talk him down. The brother has a jail phone. He sends money to incarcerated brothers and takes care of their families. People don’t get to see that side of it. They assume because he’s interviewing the GD’s or BD’s that he’s fanning the flames and that’s not the case.”
The awful and sad irony here is that Stoner’s work, advocacy and attempts to shed a more positive light on Chicago he ultimately led to him becoming victim to the same acts of violence he dedicated is life to counteracting.
The events of that night, while tragic, serves as a sobering reminder that while progress has been made with number of shooting and murders drastically reducing since Chicago was named the #1 murder capital 2014, the healing work is not yet done.
Hopefully it also serves as a call to action and an overt refusal by our remaining media outlets to shy away from addressing head on the deeply-rooted issues that continue to plague out communities and our city.
ZackTV paved the way. It is now our responsibility to honor and continue his legacy.