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'His happy place': Slain Butler student's parents return to university

Xan Korman died Aug. 19, days after he was shot in Maryland
Posted at 10:42 AM, Nov 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-19 13:59:56-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Carolyn and Steve Korman took their first steps back on the campus of Butler University this week.

They were the couple's first steps on the north-side campus since their only son, Xan, was shot and killed in August.

“Heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time,” Steve said.

Butler is their bittersweet space, where they feel supported by the Bulldogs and each other.

Before Butler's game Wednesday against Michigan State, Bulldogs coach LaVall Jordan presented Carolyn and Steve with a framed jersey featuring Xan's name. During starting lineups, fans at Hinkle Fieldhouse were asked to use the light on their phones to shine a light for Xan.

“This was his home,” Carolyn said. “This was totally his happy place.”

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Butler fans shine their phone lights for Xan Korman during starting lineups at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021.

Xan Korman, 20, meant everything to his parents. They described him as independent, empathetic, and giving.

“He definitely was a compassionate person, and we’ve had people come out of the woodwork since he passed, and say ‘you don’t know me, but I knew your son Xan, and he did this for me, he did that for me,” Steve said.

To Butler students, Xan, a rising junior was a talented photographer and editor. It’s a passion that started at the student newspaper, the Butler Collegian.

“After that, he was off and running. That just became his passion,” Steve said.

Photo after photo, he made a name for himself as a superb sports photographer. He captured the humanity of the athletes, covered the social justice movement in Indianapolis and mentored others to capture ‘the big shot.’

Just weeks before his 21st birthday, though, Xan was home visiting his parents in Maryland when someone cut his life short. Carolyn will always remember their last moments on Aug. 15.

“He kissed me on the forehead and said bye mom I love you. Just like any other day, but that was it,” Carolyn said.

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Xan Korman attended Butler University.

Around midnight, Xan died in a drive-by shooting.

“He hadn’t even gotten out of the car. He was not at the party. He was pulling up to the party and there was a hail of over 30 gun shots from five different weapons,” Carolyn said.

His parents were optimistic, but after four days in the hospital, Xan was gone on Aug. 19.

“There were two bullet fragments lodged in his brain,” Carolyn said. “Yes, he was also shot in the chest. This was nothing (pointing at her chest) this was everything (pointing at her head).”

Three months later, no one has been charged with his killing. The bullet fragments in their son were too small to tie to any weapon.

“A lot of people at the party are elite high school athletes in the D.C. area., and no one is talking. That to us is the frustration. Somebody has to know,” Carolyn said.

It’s frustrating because Xan had big dreams, and his parents wish they could have come true.

“You stole a good one from the world. And I don’t want retribution. What I want is for this to not happen again,” Carolyn said.

Xan Korman's Parents
Xan Korman's parents continuing their son's legacy, in Indiana.

“It’s devastating. You know every day we wake up and every day when we go to bed, you know there’s still that emptiness that’s part of our heart and we’ll just have to learn to live within that framework but it’s hard some days are really really hard,” Steve said.

Now, they’re channeling their grief into his legacy.

“He changed people’s lives while he was living. Our job is to help change people’s lives since he’s passed,” Steve said.

It’s a legacy spread through an endowment to support five scholarships and non-profits with Xan’s passions: photography and photojournalism, social justice, anti-gun-violence, an organ donor program and Butler University.

To learn more about the Xan Korman Memorial Fund, or to donate, click here.