Tauris' eulogist points finger at city Pastor demands action from all

November 10, 1993|By Laura Lippman | Laura Lippman,Staff Writer

If you think the murder of a 10-year-old gunned down while playing football in the street is a horror, the preacher said, "You ain't seen nothing yet."

Honorary Pastor Bennie Myrick eulogized Tauris Johnson yesterday and damned the society that failed the boy. He said he did not mourn so much for Tauris as he did the violent city the boy left behind.

And in advance, he grieved for the children who will surely follow Tauris to early graves.

It is a world, he said, going "down, down, down."

Tauris was shot in the head last Thursday near the corner of Regester and Oliver streets. He had been playing football on the street in one of the city's outdoor drug markets when a black Ford Escort raced down Regester as a passenger sprayed bullets from a semiautomatic handgun. A man returned fire from the sidewalk.

Tauris became victim No. 298 in the city's mounting homicide toll, up to 300 as of the weekend. He was one of three children shot on city streets last week.

"You're in a battle whether you want to be or not," Mr. Myrick told the 300 people who packed the United House of Prayer for All People in the 1500 block of Ashland Ave. for Tauris' funeral, 10 times the number who usually attend services there.

In a sweeping denunciation of Baltimore and its residents, Mr. Myrick blamed city leaders and adults "who hide behind their curtains . . . scared to go to the store."

"Your children are afraid to go to school," said the elderly pastor, his voice hoarse but powerful. "You can't wear a decent pair of shoes because you're scared someone is going to steal them from you. . . . You're going down, down, down."

There was no talk of turning the other cheek, and no sympathy for addicts. Mr. Myrick suggested the state build more prisons, lock up more people and worry less about the "rights of those who do wrong."

He told mourners to turn off their television sets, fight for prayer in the schools and find their way back to church. He then led everyone in a rising chant: "Enough is enough! Enough is enough!"

City Council President Mary Pat Clarke, Councilman Carl Stokes, who represents the 2nd District where Tauris lived, and state Sen. Nathan C. Irby Jr. were among those in the audience. Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke sent a note expressing his condolences, but did not attend. Dorothea Galloway, principal of Madison Square Elementary School where Tauris was a fifth-grader, read a poem written by his classmates. The short verse touched on the details about Tauris that an entire city had learned in recent days -- his love of football and basketball, the paper airplanes he flew in class, his budding reputation as a lady-killer.

"Life was too short for him," the students wrote. "He was only 10."

After the funeral, classmate Gary Crum, 11, said he dreams of Tauris, but he doesn't cry over him. He said he can't remember the last time something made him cry.

Tauris is survived by his father, William Morton, stepmother Juanita Bell, 10 sisters; and three brothers. He was buried yesterday afternoon in a Laurel cemetery, in a small white casket that also held a football donated by Colts Hall of Famer Lenny Moore.

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