When Quron Willis was 12, his sixth-grade teacher asked his students to put their dreams on index cards. On his card, the Germantown boy wrote: "I want to be a famous football player for my career."

Five years later, that dream was off track. Willis, 17, was in a juvenile-offender program in western Pennsylvania, never missing a chance to call his mother. Sometimes she could hear his tears over the phone.

Fast-forward to this year, April 8. Willis' Germantown neighbor, Maxine "Canada" Brown, 64, watched him climb out of her shattered front window in broad daylight. As she shouted his name, Willis calmly walked away.

The next day, April 9, Willis was dead. An off-duty police officer shot him as he pointed a gun at the officer after allegedly trying to rob a stranger in Fern Rock. He was 19.

It is the only time this year that a Philadelphia police officer has killed someone. In the wake of the tragedy are several people whose lives will never be the same.

"The monster they're telling me, I just don't see it," Kaneesha Willis, 37, said of her first-born child, Quron.

As a kid, he "was a good little boy" but "a spoiled little boy," she said.

Stephen Flemming, Willis' sixth-grade teacher at John B. Kelly Elementary School in Germantown, recalls him as "energetic."

"He liked a challenge, whether it be in literature or another assignment," Flemming said.

But soon, Willis began to get into trouble, and "it carried on and on," his mother said.

He was arrested twice as a juvenile - at 13 for stealing his friend's PlayStation and laptop, and at 17 for conspiring to rob a man using a gun that was later determined to be a toy, police said.

The second case got him sent for 18 months to Vision Quest's Lee Preparatory Academy in Venango County, according to court records.

He was released in May 2015, returning to the house in the 4400 block of Morris Street where he lived with his mother, his grandmother, and siblings.

Kaneesha Willis said her son dreamed of attending college but wasn't working or going to school.

She last saw him alive April 8.

'Don't call 911!'

Brown has lived on Morris Street since the late 1980s. From two doors down, she watched Quron grow from a baby into a "very tall, handsome gentleman."

"This is a kid I've taken to church with me, swimming, you name it," said Brown, the block captain.

On April 7, Willis asked Brown to take him to the pharmacy. She did so, they returned, and then they parted ways, she said. As Brown approached her house, she was attacked from behind by a masked man who said he'd shoot her if she didn't open her door.

She refused and started screaming, "Fire!" As the masked man ran away, Willis ran up to her. She told him she had been attacked and was about to dial 911.

"He's begging me, 'No! No! Don't call 911! We'll take care of it. I'll find out who it was,' " Brown said Willis told her. "I ignored that completely."

The next day, April 8, Brown arranged for installation of a security system in her home. She picked up her 92-year-old mother and they drove back to Brown's house, where the installer was waiting in his van around 1:15 p.m.

As she approached, Brown saw that a large window on her enclosed front porch was shattered. She could see someone inside. A man stepped through the window onto the lawn, and she recognized him, she said.

"I say, 'Quron!' and he looks at me and keeps walking down the street; not running, just sauntering," Brown said.

Among items stolen that day, she said, was a Smith & Wesson revolver that her father had given her in 1969.

Brown is no longer able to sleep in her home.

"I can't, I can't stay here," she said, shaking.

Kaneesha Willis can't believe that her son would have victimized Brown.

"I don't believe he would do that to somebody who knows him and watched him grow up," she said.

But the day he died, police were obtaining a warrant for Willis' arrest for the burglary at Brown's house, said a police spokesman, Lt. John Stanford.

A mask and a gun

Around 2 p.m. April 9, the day after the break-in, a minister was walking from a restaurant in Fern Rock when he turned onto the 5700 block of North Park Avenue. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a masked man behind him.

"He walked up to me and put a gun on my thigh area," the minister said. "He said, 'It's a robbery. Give me everything you've got.' I said, 'Please don't kill me. Don't shoot me!' "

Off-duty SWAT Officer Erik Bullock, a 19-year veteran, heard the man's cries and ran to his aid.

"Once the cop identified himself, the guy turned and pointed the gun at the cop," said the minister, who asked that he not be identified, for fear of retaliation. "I know the cop said to him, 'Drop the gun!' but he kept pointing the gun at the cop."

Police said Bullock fired at Willis, who was not hit and ran.

"He drops the gun, then he picks the gun back up and turns towards the cop again," Stanford said. "That's where the witness said he fired at the cop."

Bullock fired again, hitting Willis in the abdomen, police said.

Willis was taken to Einstein Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 3:06 p.m.

Stanford said the gun Willis used in the robbery is "identical" to the one stolen from Brown's house. It is the same make, model and year, but he said police would be unable to prove it was the same gun through ballistics testing.

It was the 13th time this year that a gun was pointed at a Philadelphia officer, the third officer-involved shooting, and the only fatality, police said. Last year, two people were fatally shot by police in the city.

Officer 'was God-sent'

The minister remains shaken. His own son was 28 when he was fatally shot in a 2013 robbery. He says the officer who came to his aid prevented him from a similar fate.

"He was God-sent," the minister said of Bullock. "He was in the right place at the right time. If he wasn't . . . I wouldn't be here."

Many police officers who fire fatal shots suffer for years from post-traumatic stress, experts say. Bullock has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation into the shooting and is not available for comment.

Meanwhile, Kaneesha Willis is doing her best to cope and raise her four surviving children.

"I'm kind of holding on by a thread," she said.

The minister is praying for her, but also wondering how her son fell so far in 19 years.

"I'm sure that they're in mourning," the minister said. "They always say, 'He's a nice guy,' but nice guys don't turn into this overnight."

As for Brown, the neighbor, she said she's torn between mourning the loss of a boy she knew from birth and dealing with her feelings of betrayal.

"It's such a tragic waste of life," she said.

And then there's Flemming, the teacher, whose thoughts go back to Willis' dream, written on an index card.

"The acts are horrible, nobody is disputing that," he said. "But by the same token, he did have hopes and dreams somewhere along the way."

215-854-4225 @FarFarrAway