Death of a deliveryman

August 15, 1994

Igor Berenshteyn came to Baltimore 18 months ago from his native Russia to make a new life for himself. Last week the 23-year-old's efforts were abruptly cut short by a gunman's bullet during a robbery attempt as Mr. Berenshteyn was trying to make a delivery for a pizza company in Pimlico.

It is always tragic when a life is snuffed out, and doubly so when that life seems as full of youthful promise as was Mr. Berenshteyn's. The irony is only compounded by the fact that Mr. Berenshteyn, like countless immigrants before him, had determined to discover opportunity in America, yet found instead only a premature and senseless death. The three assailants who lured him to the empty house in Pimlico did not even bother to take his money after shooting him.

Last week, The Evening Sun's Elaine Tassy profiled Mr. Berenshteyn's all-too-brief sojourn in Baltimore, starting with his initial reluctance to leave his friends and sweetheart behind in Russia. His family arrived from the city of Ulyanovsky in January, 1993, and Mr. Berenshteyn spent months trying to overcoming feelings of frustration as he struggled to reorient himself in a new country and a new language. As late as last May he had written in his journal that he was "terribly bored," adding "I don't even know what I'm living for."

Yet recently the slender, dark-haired young man had become more optimistic. Even though he had graduated from college in Russia, he was able to find only low-paying jobs in America. Still, he got a job delivering pizzas from a shop on Reisterstown Road, and in July he found a new job handing out fliers and folding boxes for a take-out shop on Park Heights Avenue. He told the owner at his new job that he wanted to be a driver but was hired as a clerk. Last Wednesday, the owner finally agreed to let him try delivering pizzas for one evening, just for tips. On his first delivery, as he was carrying a pepperoni, sausage and ham pizza to a house in the 2700 block of Virginia Avenue, he was confronted by three armed robbers and killed.

Like the deaths of so many young men who die violently, Mr. Berenshteyn's murder left behind a bereaved family and loved ones. "They killed my son, but they killed my heart and my husband's heart," said Mr. Berenshteyn's mother, Faina Vaynerman. In a larger sense, Mr. Berenshteyn's murder was also an act of violence against the hearts of all who care about the future of this city.

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