Kenneth Calloway's mother could not fly to Cleveland for her son's funeral.
Mae Calloway did not want to land at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and walk through the building where her oldest child shot a police officer Thursday and was killed by another officer returning fire.
She and her husband drove from Florida to Cleveland.
She holds on to better memories of her oldest child, who, though he was 38, "still tried to sit on my lap. My baby."
Mae Calloway and a cousin, Silas Whitehead, a retired policeman from Allegheny County, Pa., said they did not know the "Kenny" who has been portrayed since the shooting as a hot-headed career criminal.
They said he was a loving father of four and an avid football fan.
They said he was also a frustrated man with a painful back injury that prevented him from working for about the last 10 years. He received Social Security benefits because of the injury, but he was never homeless, as some have said.
The family gathered Saturday at another cousin's East Side home.
Mae Calloway raised Kenneth and his younger sister, Michelle, in New York City. He dropped out of high school but studied welding. He injured his back while working as a welder, she said. "I always told him to suck it up, when he complained about the pain," Calloway said. Then she almost whispered, "I didn't know his pain."
Mae Calloway and Whitehead offered their "deepest regrets" that a police officer was injured. "We are deeply saddened by that," Whitehead said.
Patrolman Steve Walker, 52, was in critical but stable condition Saturday at MetroHealth Medical Center with a gunshot wound to the chest.
Calloway died of a gunshot wound to the chest, Cuyahoga County Deputy Coroner Joseph Felo said Saturday.
The family is planning a funeral for Tuesday. And they plan to meet with Cleveland police officials.
"We want to know, how did an argument escalate into a struggle and shootings?" Whitehead said. "This should have been 'disorderly conduct,' if he was arguing over buying a ticket. How did the escalation occur?"
Detectives continue to investigate.
And there's a question that police, the Calloways and even Kenneth's fiancée cannot answer.
Why was he planning to fly to Chicago? He had no family there.
"We may never know," Mae Calloway said. "Only Kenny and God know."
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They shared their stories even as the CTA continues repair work at the O'Hare station, which the agency said should reopen sometime this weekend
Rahinah Ibrahim, a Stanford University doctoral candidate, said she was at San Francisco International Airport last year ready to fly to her homeland of Malaysia for a conference.