Prayers for slain man

Vigil: Family, friends of Antonio Reaves try to bring peace to city neighborhood.

March 24, 2004|By Lynn Anderson | Lynn Anderson,SUN STAFF

In hopes of changing their world, Antonio Reaves' family and friends gathered yesterday around the marble steps in East Baltimore where he was killed.

They started with a prayer vigil, then marched slowly down a street dotted with boarded-up rowhouses.

"This gathering is not just to burn candles," said the Rev. Willie E. Ray, an activist who helped organize the gathering in the 1200 block of N. Bond St. -- the latest among dozens he has staged in response to city killings. "We want to send a message to the neighborhood."

A few minutes later, the group of about 30 people took to the street, chanting as they marched: "Stop the violence, start the love."

Curious residents stuck their heads out of windows. Some came outside to watch, remembering Reaves as a young man with excellent manners and an inviting smile.

Reaves was shot twice in the head about 3 p.m. March 12. His killing, under investigation by Baltimore police, was a mystery to his friends and family, they said.

Reaves' mother, Gwenaviere Gardner, 46, stood near a makeshift memorial of teddy bears and empty whiskey bottles and said she had no idea why someone would want to kill her son.

"You know, people ask, `Was someone angry at him?'" she said. "But I couldn't tell you why someone would want him dead. So many people loved him. Everyone loved him."

Reaves' girlfriend, Chenae Dennis, 21, said he had recently applied for a job loading trucks for UPS. He attended Northern High School and received his GED diploma in 2000. Dennis said Reaves doted on their daughter, Ariyone Reaves, 20 months.

"There was nothing he wouldn't do for her," she said. "From the moment she was born, he was overjoyed."

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