John and Emmaline Stewart and their family spent Father's Day mourning their slain 13-year-old son and discussing the void his death leaves in their lives.
Antwan "Troy" Stewart slipped out of his Mondawmin-area home early Saturday while his parents slept. Shortly after 4:30 a.m., in the 2300 block of Whittier Ave., someone placed a gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger.
The youth died instantly, police said. The killing was about four blocks from his home in the 3500 block of Holmes Ave., just west of Druid Hill Park.
City police spokesman Sam Ringgold said police think the shooting was drug-related because empty plastic bags used to package cocaine were found on Antwan's body. But no drugs were found, and the boy's parents find it hard to believe their son was involved in drugs.
Police said they have few clues about the killing and no suspects. Autopsy results were pending.
The Lemmel Middle School seventh-grader was one of four males killed in separate homicides in Baltimore Saturday. The killings pushed the city's homicide total to 148 this year, Mr. Ringgold said.
The Stewarts had planned to celebrate Father's Day yesterday with a family outing to see the hit movie "Lethal Weapon 3." Instead, John, 38, and Emmaline, 39, discussed their son's unexpected, violent death. Mrs. Stewart even offered a plea to her son's peers:
"If your parents tell you to do something, do it. Don't wait until they are asleep and sneak outside, because you may end up like my son."
The only way parents can guard their children from society's violence is "to lock them up and throw away the key," she said.
Mr. Stewart said police knocked on the door about 5 a.m. Saturday to awaken them, then took them to Whittier Avenue to identify the body.
"I didn't want to see him that way," said Mr. Stewart. The boy was lying on his back in a pool of blood. His eyes were closed.
"I still can't believe it," Mr. Stewart continued yesterday, obviously drained physically. "It just hurts me to think about it."
"Every time the door opens, I think he'll walk through the door," said Mrs. Stewart, wiping away tears. "My life will never be the same."
The couple sat in the living room of their modest rowhouse. Mr. Stewart, a soft-spoken construction worker who holds down two jobs, pointed to the ceiling that he and Antwan had rebuilt. Antwan had wanted to be a carpenter. He also liked rap music, animals and sports.
Mr. Stewart said he couldn't explain why his son was out so late and couldn't believe his son was involved in drugs. He said the family had seen no signs of such activity.
During the school year that just ended, however, the boy's schoolwork had dropped, his father said, and he and his wife were called to Lemmel at least 10 times because Antwan had been cutting classes and coming to school late.
Still, Saturday night was the latest Antwan had stayed out, his father continued. "I guess when you're out that late, anything can happen."
Mr. Stewart said he paid his son $30 a week to perform household chores so he would stay out of trouble. He said he always warned the boy to stay away from Gwynns Falls Parkway and Reisterstown Road, an area where he said drug trafficking and violence are common.
"Once you cross Gwynns Falls, you can forget it," said Mrs. Stewart, a supervisor for Blind Industries and Services of Maryland.
"He didn't listen," Mr. Stewart said. Antwan was precocious, his father said. "I told him to 'stay in your place. You can't go out there acting like a man. They'll treat you like one.' "
The Stewarts have a daughter, 16, at home, and a son, 20, who lives elsewhere.
Since the shooting, Mr. Stewart said, neighbors have told him different versions of what happened.
One version is that two boys held up his son. Although Antwan emptied his pockets to show he had no money, he still was shot.
Another is that a woman who lives in the area, known for performing sexual favors for young men to get money to buy crack cocaine, had called Antwan outside her house so two men she knew could shoot him. What the woman's motive could be was unclear.
Several neighbors said yesterday that Whittier Avenue, lined with big trees and brick rowhouses, is plagued by drugs and violence.
One resident said six homicides have occurred there since 1986. Another said Antwan's death didn't shock her, but wondered why "a 13-year-old would be out" so late.
The shooting is a sign of the times, another woman said. "It's getting terrible around here. I never go out around dark."
Antwan's funeral will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday at Leroy O. Dyett & Son Funeral Home on Liberty Heights Avenue.
In the other Saturday killings:
* Eric Lewis, 31, of the 200 block of N. Fremont Ave., was shot about 2:30 p.m. in the 1100 block of Edmondson Ave. Police say they have no witnesses and no motive.
* Rolfe Wade, 20, of the 3800 block of Cottage Ave., was shot about 4 a.m. in the 3700 block of Park Heights Ave. He died at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center about 15 hours later.
* The body of an unidentified man in his early 20s, shot many times, was found about 1 a.m. on a playground in the 1400 block of N. Eden St.