Classmates mourn slain 9-year-old

April 16, 1994|By Melody Simmons | Melody Simmons,Sun Staff Writer

Instead of learning math and English at Brehms Lane Elementary School yesterday, Franklin Powell fidgeted in a church pew at the funeral of his friend, 9-year-old Tito Andy Taylor.

Franklin, 10, his third-grade classmates, their teacher and the school's principal sat near Tito's open casket during funeral services at Highway to Heaven Apostolic Church in East Baltimore.

Tito was shot in the back about 11:30 p.m. last Saturday as he played with friends at East Chase Street and North Collington Avenue.

Derry Williams, 17, of the 2200 block of Prentice Place was charged as an adult with first-degree murder and weapons offenses in Tito's slaying. The Williams youth told police that the weapon discharged accidentally, authorities said.

After the funeral, the schoolchildren stood outside the church in the 1600 block of N. Patterson Park Ave., and spoke of the fear they feel.

"A lot of young brothers are dying," Franklin said. "They just don't know when it's their time to die. I don't know what [Tito's] death means, but he ain't have to die. I guess God wanted him. It was his time."

Christopher Hamilton, 12, said he will always remember Tito.

"I am afraid now," he said. "Afraid that other kids will die in the streets, too. He was like a cousin to me, we grew up together."

The children were invited to a candlelight vigil in memory of Tito on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. The vigil will begin at Tito's home in the 1000 block of N. Collington Ave. and be followed by a march to the site of Tito's killing.

During the funeral, the Rev. Willie Ray of Mount Lebanon Baptist Church described the slain boy as a "martyr." Mr. Ray is the leader of the Stop the Killing crusade, a campaign that focuses on street violence.

"Perhaps God used him as a plot to bring us together. We want Tito's life to have a meaning so we are establishing a scholarship for him. He was a hero," Mr. Ray said.

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