Slain child had earlier troubles Severn 6th-grader had found new life in loving home

November 26, 1995|By Joe Nawrozki | Joe Nawrozki,SUN STAFF

By all accounts, Nicky Pastore was a resilient child.

Rescued from a depressing Queens, N.Y., apartment as a toddler, he was moved to peaceful suburban Severn, where he was loved and nurtured. He learned to meet life's challenges head on.

Before his life was cut short by an accidental shotgun blast Friday, Nicky, an 11-year-old with a slight learning disability, earned a spot last year on the fifth-grade honor roll. He played shortstop on the Millersville Little League's championship team and his latest pursuit was attempting to master the tuba.

The sixth-grader at Old Mill Middle School was accidentally shot with a 20-gauge shotgun while playing at the home of a 12-year-old schoolmate near his Anne Arundel County home, police said. No charges have been filed against the boy.

Nicky's legal guardians, William and Nancy Sharp, yesterday wrestled with the impossible: understanding the boy's violent death.

As dozens of family members, neighbors and friends visited the Sharps' comfortable brick home on Ava Road, the couple sat at the kitchen table and talked about the child they loved and lost, the child they will bury Tuesday.

"My sister-in-law called us and said she was in the deepest of trouble, so we became his court-appointed guardians," said Mrs. Sharp, a music teacher at Central Middle School in Edgewater. That was when Nicky was 22 months old.

"We're pretty sure Nicky was born when his mother was addicted [to drugs] and she couldn't care for him anymore. His older brother, 7, fed him and changed his diapers because the parents were never around."

When Nicky came to Severn, "he hardly knew how to drink. It was as if he didn't know what milk was because he couldn't get enough of it," Mrs. Sharp said. "String beans, Jello, milk -- it was like he was a stranger to it all," said Mr. Sharp, an inspector with the state General Services Administration.

It wasn't long before Nicky "became our third baby," Mrs. Sharp said. His brothers -- Michael, now 16, and Chris, now 13 -- $H "thought Nicky's being with us was great. They fought over in whose room Nicky would sleep."

Once in school, Nicky's physician determined the child was learning disabled and placed him on the medication Ritalin.

But Nicky refused to be labeled and made the honor roll at school last year.

"He also had a perfect attendance record last year and he was very proud of that," Mrs. Sharp said.

Nicky was a friendly child, said Mary Jane Harwood, the Sharps' next-door neighbor. "He always seemed like a nice boy, a loving kid. He spoke to everybody. Just two weeks ago I bought peanut brittle from him that he was selling for school. This is so, so sad."

Mrs. Sharp recalled that last summer, after an elderly neighbor was injured in an accident, "Nicky went over every morning and just sat on her porch and talked with her. He knew that it made her feel better."

The pastor of Pasadena United Methodist Church, where Nicky was baptized, spoke sadly and softly about the loss of a "pleasant child" who was active in church.

"He was just a nice part of our Sunday school," said the Rev. Leslie Metcalf, who has served as the church's pastor for 16 months. "This is just a shock and amazing that this would happen to Nicky."

On Friday, Mrs. Sharp went to Marley Mall for some Christmas shopping with her sister and another family member and didn't learn of the shooting until she returned home. Mr. Sharp was working downtown and had to be paged by his son Chris.

The Sharps rushed to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where doctors, despite a frantic 30-minute effort, were unable to repair the massive injury Nicky suffered in the point-blank blast.

"I don't know what to do," said Mr. Sharp. "In the Army, I was a medic in a hospital that got lots of wounded from Vietnam. Then, I could look at a body in a clinical way. With something like this, I don't know what to do, what you can say.

"You can't totally child-proof the world for your child," he said.

Yesterday, the Sharp family made funeral arrangements at the Singleton Funeral Home, 1 Second Ave. S.W., Glen Burnie.

Visitation will be there from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. today and tomorrow. The funeral is scheduled for 11 a.m. Tuesday at Pasadena United Methodist Church, 61 Ritchie Highway.

No one answered the door yesterday at the home where the shooting occurred on Washington-Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard -- within sight of the Sharp home. A man who answered the telephone at that home refused to speak with a reporter and hung up.

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