Another End, Too Soon

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A 16-year-old's Life Is Lost To The Streets Of Baltimore

July 23, 2009|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Peter.hermann@baltsun.com

The mourners tried to set seven white candles on the dried blood that had spilled on Kenwood Avenue.

Some fell down before they could be lit; the flames quickly blew out on the others, snuffed out in the stiff breeze much like the young life they had gathered to remember.

Jerrod Reed, all of 16, just back from a trip to Miami, was hit in the head by a bullet while standing on an East Baltimore street corner, Kenwood and Madison, a few blocks from where he had lived with his older sister, grandmother and an assortment of other relatives.

He was shot Sunday about 9:30 p.m., the 10th person younger than 18 killed in the city this year. One fewer student to enter the junior year of high school this fall, one more victim to add to a homicide list that so far this year is 125 names long. He also is one of five men between 16 and 35 shot and killed this year in a five-block radius in and around the Madison East End neighborhood.

A day after he fell, the mourners, his friends, took over the corner.

"I know he was a good kid," said a woman trying to light the candles.

"He was at the wrong place at the wrong time," said another.

"His grandmother did all she could to keep this from happening," added a third.

"It was a bullet meant for somebody else," said a fourth.

Police haven't made an arrest and say they don't know of a motive, and can't say yet whether Jerrod was targeted, mistaken for somebody else or hit in the head by a stray bullet. "He was standing on the corner when an unknown gunman opened fire," is all police spokesman Donny Moses could say Monday.

By Wednesday, police reported little else but were pleading for witnesses to come forward who "might put detectives on the right track."

But the police do agree with the family on one issue: Jerrod did not have a criminal record, unlike the 16-year-old boy who was shot in the leg while sitting on steps on the corner when Jerrod was killed. Police sources said that youth had been arrested three times since 2007, twice on charges involving drugs.

It might be too early to tell if Jerrod fell victim to somebody else's fight or was caught up in the corner disputes and the drug battles he tried so hard to avoid. Inside the house where Jerrod grew up on nearby Milton Avenue under the watchful eye of his 65-year-old grandmother, grieving relatives couldn't think of a reason for him to be shot.

He loved school, said his 22-year-old sister Shakena Reed. He loved computers, too. And spending the day at the amusement park. Jerrod came home from school and disappeared into his room, she said. The corner wasn't his thing, but he still has friends, and that's where they hang.

"Our grandmother always tried to keep us off the corners," Shakena said. "But it's summer, and it's hard to keep a teenager off the streets."

She paused.

"I haven't cried so hard ..."

Shakena remembers getting a call from a frantic neighbor Sunday and rushing to Kenwood.

"He didn't have any problem with anybody," she said.

She stood behind the yellow police tape as detectives scoured the corner for evidence. She watched paramedics load the other wounded teen into an ambulance and rush him to the hospital.

There was no such trip for her brother.

Shakena stared at his body, partially covered with a white sheet.

Another young life lost to the streets of Baltimore, which claims even those who use them for innocent things.

Shakena put out five pictures of her brother on an end table and chose one to be published, one of her posing with Jerrod outside their rowhouse, her left arm around his waist.

Her voice grew quiet.

"Too young," she said.

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