Deacon shot while on mission for his church Stray bullet kills him in area rife with drugs

April 04, 1996|By Robert Hilson Jr. | Robert Hilson Jr.,SUN STAFF

A picture above his bed depicts the Last Supper, and left open on his bed is a worn copy of the Bible from which he would read a few pages every night. He last read I Corinthians, Chapter 8.

James Chester Streeter's life revolved around his family and serving the Lord. But Monday night, as the deacon walked through a drug-infested area near his East Baltimore home to deliver coats to friends as a church duty, he was struck fatally by a stray bullet.

Mr. Streeter, 28, who lived in the 2100 block of Cliftwood Ave., was pronounced dead a short time later. The shooting occurred near North and Collington avenues, about 100 yards from his home.

"He was so holy, you were just awed by his presence," Veronica Lewis, his sister, said yesterday.

"When he'd see you, he wouldn't say 'Good morning,' he'd say 'Praise the Lord.' "

A tall and slender man with a bouncy gait, Mr. Streeter routinely walked wherever he had to go, never worried about random violence or groups of men who clustered on street corners to hawk drugs.

His philosophy, friends and family said, was simple: The fellows on the corners do what they have to do and so does he.

"He walked by faith," said Tommie Rooks, a longtime friend and fellow church member at the Apostolic Faith Prayer Band Church of the Lord Jesus Christ on East Lombard Street.

"He believed every word out of the Lord's mouth. He walked in fear of no man. He was just enthused by life. That's just how he was."

Police said the shooting occurred shortly before 9 p.m. Monday when a man stepped from an alley behind houses in the 2100 block of North Ave. and fired several shots at a man who walked on Collington Avenue.

The intended target was not struck, but Mr. Streeter and two other people were shot, said police spokesman Sam Ringgold. No arrests have been made.

One victim, Mary Jackson, 65, also of the 2100 block of Cliftwood Ave., was in her kitchen and was shot in the right leg by a bullet that passed through two metal security doors.

"It happens all the time around here, but it's the first time it hit my house," Ms. Jackson said. "It happens all of the time. I heard shooting and went to close the door and that's when the bullet came through."

Ms. Jackson, who lives in a corner house at Collington Avenue, was treated at Johns Hopkins Hospital and released.

The third shooting victim, who has not been identified, also was treated for a gunshot wound and released.

At Mr. Streeter's home yesterday, family and friends consoled each other. Religious ornaments were scattered throughout the two-story rowhouse that he shared with his sister, Ms. Lewis.

"This is truly one of those senseless killings," said Eugene Streeter, the victim's brother. "Why do they even manufacture handguns? If they're for protection, why do so many people die from them each year? The more they say stop the killing, the more they're killing."

A graduate of Lake Clifton-Eastern High School, Mr. Streeter was a maintenance man at an East Baltimore apartment building for the elderly. He'd carry a pocket Bible with him to work each day, Mr. Rooks said.

"He had to get a message every day while he was at work," Mr. Rooks said. "He'd read it at lunchtime."

Mr. Streeter was ordained a deacon last year and was involved in nearly every activity at the Apostolic church, said the Rev. Naomi Epps, the church's pastor and founder.

"He served the church very well," Ms. Epps said. "He was not only a son of the Lord, but my son, too. He did anything his hands could find to do. He was my right hand."

He studied the Bible and other religious literature daily, and perhaps his favorite verse was in Psalms 121, which relatives recall him reciting often:

"I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help."

Pub Date: 4/04/96

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