Laroy Keith Hopkins, community activist who took anti-violence message to schools City worker had planned to open security firm

February 08, 1996|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Laroy Keith Hopkins had planned to go downtown today to file papers incorporating his new security business, but instead he is being mourned -- an ambitious and caring family man known for community activism and volunteer work who was fatally shot Monday night.

Mr. Hopkins, an employee of the city's Waste Water Department, was struck by a bullet fired from a car outside the New 32nd Street Plaza, also called the Phase III nightclub, in Waverly. He had been a security guard at the club for three years.

"He was a very unique person and a genuinely good man," said the Rev. Damien Nalepa, pastor of St. Gregory the Great Roman Catholic Church and a friend of Mr. Hopkins for 12 years.

Mr. Hopkins was an active member of the Southwest Baltimore church's We Care Enough to Get Involved committee, an anti-drug organization that sought to keep area children and teens off drugs.

"He was so interested and determined in presenting positive goals and values to the children of the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood where he had grown up," the priest said.

"He worked on anti-drug weekends and was active in the planning and execution of marches into drug-infested neighborhoods," he said.

"He was about causes and died in the line of duty," said the Rev. Willie Ray, associate minister of Enon Baptist Church, and founder and chairman of Save Another Youth Inc. and Stop the Killing Coalition.

"Peace and harmony and stay away from violence was the message that Laroy carried to the schools and rec centers all over the city," Mr. Ray said. "His death sends a strong message that folks and this community have to finally get together and do something about guns."

Born and raised in West Baltimore, Mr. Hopkins was a 1979 graduate of Walbrook Senior High School, where he was a champion wrestler and known as "Powerhouse." He later attended the University of Kentucky on an athletic scholarship.

Mr. Hopkins became interested in martial arts as a 15-year-old when he joined a team at St. Gregory, and eventually became a 5th-degree black belt. A heavyweight kick-boxing champion, he was also a co-founder of DKT Force, a karate team that competed in the area and throughout the South.

For the past seven years, the Forest Park resident worked as a mechanic for the Waste Water Department. In addition, he was a licensed home-improvement contractor and planned to open Prestige Security Services Inc.

"With all of his activities, he was never too busy to volunteer at Calvin Rodwell Elementary School, where his daughter, Whitney Nicole, is a student," said his wife of 12 years, the former Angela Woodard, who met her future husband in 1982 at a self-defense class he was teaching.

Mr. Hopkins also volunteered with the Disabled American Veterans, as a manager at two warehouse stores.

"He stood for justice and peace and hated violence," Mrs. Hopkins said. "He wanted to make it a better world; that's why rTC he worked so hard. Ironically, what he stood against wound up killing him."

Services are scheduled for 7 p.m. tomorrow at Jones Tabernacle Baptist Church, 2100 W. Baltimore St., where he was an active member and taught martial arts. Burial will be at 10 a.m. Saturday at Arbutus Memorial Park.

Other survivors include a 2-year-old son, Devon D. Hopkins; his father, James Ginyard; his mother, Gloria Hopkins Henson; a brother, Joseph Theodore Perry; and his stepfather, John Henson, all of Baltimore.

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