Christopher Clarke

[Age 18] The Patterson High senior loved music and intended to join the police.

March 22, 2007|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,sun reporter

Christopher C. Clarke, a Patterson High School senior and athlete, was looking forward to becoming a Baltimore police officer.

"He was an outstanding, well-rounded and well-focused student," Patterson Principal Laura D'Anna said yesterday. "He knew what he wanted to do and was polite and respectful. He was very well-liked at the school and was a big part of the Patterson family."

His mother, Anita Ann-Marie McDonald, said he had acceptances from several colleges but had decided to enroll at the Baltimore City Police Academy. He "had his eye on the prize," she said, echoing the comments of his teachers and others who knew him.

Instead, Mr. Clarke became a victim of Baltimore crime -- fatally shot March 13 on Cliftmont Avenue near his home in the Belair-Edison neighborhood, a bystander caught in the crossfire of apparent drug-turf violence. He was 18.

Mr. Clarke played on Patterson's football team and was an attackman on the lacrosse team. School officials said that this year's lacrosse season has been dedicated in his honor.

He also played the saxophone, keyboard and drums in a Patterson jazz ensemble that performs several times a year.

"God gave him everything -- looks, talent and brains," said Ray Gagne, his music teacher. "You don't get any more hardworking than he was. They just don't come any better."

The teacher said Mr. Clarke had an "insatiable curiosity" for musical instruments. "One day he would want to play the tenor sax, or the piano or the drums -- and he was good at them."

He also helped set up amplifiers and the music equipment at his church, and would occasionally play the drums there.

"He was the kind of person who could listen to a whole CD of church music and enjoy it," said James Harris, a friend and fellow Patterson senior.

His friend recalled Mr. Clarke's enthusiasm for getting a research paper completed on time -- and then helping him get his own schoolwork done.

"He pushed me to come to school every day -- and if he wanted something, nothing could stop him," Mr. Harris said.

Born in Takoma Park, he moved to Baltimore with his family about 10 years ago and was raised on Mayfield Avenue in Northeast Baltimore.

After attending Thurgood Marshall middle and high schools, he transferred to Patterson last year.

"He was a model of what a young man should be. He went against the odds," said an aunt, Rose Forbes of Rosedale. "He never passed you without saying, `Good morning.' He kept his honor-roll certificate in his bag and never bragged about it."

Services will be held at 10 a.m. today at Shiloh Church of God -- 7th Day, 1910 Edison Highway, where he had been an active member.

Survivors include his stepfather, Winston A. McDonald of Baltimore; his father, Devon H. Clarke of Kentucky; a brother, Kemar McDonald of Baltimore; two sisters, Brittany A. Clarke of Baltimore and Camesha Baksh of New York City; his maternal grandmother, Evelyn Graham of Baltimore; and his paternal grandmother, Merline Sue of Jamaica, N.Y.

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