Before police knew the identity of the victim that night, officers radioed to dispatchers that he appeared to be in his "early 20s."
He dressed like all the other youths with their monotone fashion flair: oversized white T-shirts, dark jeans and sneakers. He usually wore a scowl on his face but would break into a grin to greet a friend.
And he was gaining street credibility. His friends gravitated toward him and followed his lead. "He was the muscle," said Tayvon Outten, fiance of Walker's mother. His grandmother felt safe at home against break-ins with Walker there.
During the holiday cookout, Walker talked of having love for his neighborhood and how he wasn't afraid to die, more insights into her son that left Jones surprised.
To many youths, "representing" their neighborhood is like wearing a badge of credibility. It is home turf. It is standing for something. A chest-thumping machismo. A sense of protecting something even if it means resorting to violence, and it often does.
Just weeks before he was killed, Walker told his mother he and his friends fought with some Flag House boys. Flag House was a housing project two blocks from Perkins that was demolished in 2000. Some of the displaced families moved to Perkins. Doesn't matter that they now live in Perkins, they are still Flag House - and sometimes the groups collide.
Walker was all about Perkins Homes. Even when he occasionally stayed a couple of nights at his mother's apartment, Walker wouldn't make much effort to make friends in West Baltimore. Perkins was his spot.
These were clear signs that Walker was not just aware of the streets, but beginning to emulate the behavior.
"These young boys get into some trouble or get into something they are trying to get out of, and they have nowhere to turn, nobody to talk to. So they go to the streets," said Outten, who got to know Walker over the past three years.
"He really didn't have no escape. His friends followed him around, so they couldn't help him," said Outten. "If he said, `I'm going in the house,' they would go too. And around us, he was just quiet, a quiet dude."
Life in the courts
And Perkins is no environment for a child to navigate alone.
Violent crime is commonplace in Perkins Homes, which is off Pratt Street, squeezed between Little Italy and Fells Point, consisting of five courts: Spring, Ballou, Dallas, Herring and Mason.
In the past three years, at least seven people have been killed on one of the courts. At least eight others who lived on one of these courts have been charged with a murder. And there have been dozens of nonfatal shootings, armed robberies and other violent crimes.
At Eden Carryout, store owner Jacob Gim keeps his merchandise and himself behind a plastic wall that he says is bulletproof. Shoppers have to speak through a small opening and get their goods through a small turntable on the counter.
Dealers have the corners locked and drugs stashed in apartments throughout Perkins.
The tug between right and wrong is evident in the remnants left on the street: Popsicle sticks and candy wrappers next to used hypodermic needles and broken liquor bottles. There's a lot of foot traffic at odd hours, particularly the darkened early morning.
This is what Walker's family was trying to shield him from, the life he saw every day just steps from his front door, inescapable images.
"Out here, you have to have your guard up," said Sherron Jones.
"Walker was just acting real hard because out here you have to act a certain way so nobody messes with you."
The family knew that for many young boys there is a temptation to dabble in drugs: either to get high as a customer or make fast money as a supplier. Having cash was appealing to Walker. He wanted things that were too expensive for an unemployed grandmother to buy, and he didn't have a job.
So the family chipped in with the gifts he wanted, such as sneakers, video games, clothes and money, figuring if he got everything he needed at home, the streets would look less attractive.
"Walker didn't want for anything. Anything Walker wanted, Walker got," Brooks said.
"I look at it like this," said Outten, who bought PlayStation 2 video games and shoes, including a $150 pair of Timberland boots, for Walker, "I'd rather give it to him rather than have him go hitting somebody over the head for it."
His paternal grandmother, Montgomery, who lives in Owings Mills, spent some weekends with Walker, taking him to visit family here and in New Jersey to expose him to more than what he saw in his neighborhood, she said.
She would also take Walker to work with her at the Fort Meade Commissary and pay him out of her own pocket, just so she could occupy his time and let him earn some cash.
Everyone worried about idle time Walker had, especially when school ended in mid-June for summer break. A day at Six Flags amusement park was about the only thing he had to look forward to, a trip promised by his mother as an eighth-grade graduation gift.
They never got to go.
The wrong crowd