Victim's family remembers his religious commitment

A Salisbury man who found faith after turning away from drugs was killed during a two-state shooting rampage on the Eastern Shore.

April 09, 2005|By Chris Guy | Chris Guy,SUN STAFF

SALISBURY -- His friends and family all agree -- DaVondale M. "Pete" Peters never stopped smiling, never stopped giving and never stopped to question his commitment to the faith that had guided him out of a troubled past of drug use and dealing.

He dreamed of formally studying for the ministry, though in the meantime he had been working at a fast-food restaurant. He remained optimistic even after losing that job about a month ago.

Thursday morning, he was dead.

Peters was killed just minutes after dropping off his 4-year-old daughter, Lenia, at a day care center. He was caught in a chaotic two-state shooting rampage that began in nearby Delaware and ended in the working-class neighborhood just west of Salisbury where Peters died.

Police say Peters, 28, was shot when 22-year-old Allison Lamont Norman of Seaford, Del., apparently tried to commandeer Peters' Chevrolet Suburban a few blocks from the day care center.

"My husband was thinking that God wanted him to be a pastor, and that's what he was following," his wife, Beatrice Peters, said yesterday at her well-kept brown ranch home. "I can't tell you how badly I hurt, but I'm not angry. My husband used to always say, 'Resentment in the heart hinders the enhancement of your spirit.'"

Beatrice Peters said she became alarmed Thursday after she repeatedly called and failed to reach her husband. It was 3 p.m. before she learned of the shootings.

"I just called and called him all day long," she said. "Even after they told me he had been shot, I didn't realize he had been killed."

The couple met at Harvard Custom Manufacturing in Salisbury, where workers assemble complex circuit boards and other electronic equipment for aircraft manufacturers.

Her husband was there "just long enough for God to send him to me," said Beatrice Peters, who still works at the plant.

They would have celebrated their third wedding anniversary May 17, joined by her four children, ages 4 to 17, and other members of her family.

"He was the sweetest man," Roseanne Tilghman said of the son-in-law she quickly came to love. "I never saw an angry side. He was the kind of person who just drew people to him. He always called me 'Mom,' right from the beginning. To me, he was a son."

The Rev. Marcus Briddell, the minister at Mt. Zion House of Worship, the storefront church in north Salisbury where Peters had become an important leader, praised his friend and protege for walking away from drug use and distribution that includes half-a-dozen drug cases.

"It takes a lot of commitment to face that kind of lifestyle," Briddell said. "It's tough for all of us to face our problems and walk a different way."

Bridell knew of the disappointment Peters felt after being fired about a month ago by a regional Wendy's franchise. He had worked for the fast-food company for five years and thought he was being groomed for a management slot. The company, Bridell said, noted Peters' criminal record.

"He was not just lying around saying, `Woe is me,'" Bridell said. "He was not going to give up. He was always smiling. He taught a Bible study class [the night before he died]. He was an individual who would do anything for you."

David Carpenter, a spokesman for Davco Restaurants, which operates 150 Wendy's franchises from its headquarters in Crofton, confirmed that Peters' last day of work was March 15. He said Peters had been in an entry-level management training program but did not complete the course.

"Certainly, our condolences go to his family, but I'm not able to comment any further," Carpenter said.

Yesterday, Peters' widow said she was still trying to adjust, still trying to answer her constantly ringing phone, and greet mourners and friends. The family had not begun to make funeral arrangements.

She worries about her children. Nine-year-old Orlando is "the angry one," she said. Karaz, 6, is "the sad one."

"It's going to be all right," Beatrice Peters said. "I've got Pete. I've got him in my heart and in my soul. My husband was an awesome man of God."

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