1 block, 2 families looking for answers to killings

Markets at death sites 'like a tradition'

  • Candles, flowers and a big teddy bear mark the spot on Luzerne Avenue where Charles Bowman, 16, was fatally shot March 27.
Candles, flowers and a big teddy bear mark the spot on Luzerne… (Justin Fenton, Baltimore…)
April 02, 2010|By Justin Fenton | justin.fenton@baltsun.com

On opposite sides of one square block in East Baltimore on Wednesday night, two families grieved.

On one side, the 1400 block of N. Luzerne Ave., family and friends lit candles at the spot where 16-year-old Charles Bowman was gunned down March 27.

On the other, the 1400 block of N. Lakewood Ave., family and friends hung balloons and lit candles at the spot where Gregory Wilson, 20, was slain in August, there to commemorate what would have been Wilson's 21st birthday.

One family sorting through a flood of emotions, another still searching for answers seven months later, connected by geography and the city's violence.

Bowman's friends and family have been keeping vigil for the past several days; on Wednesday, dozens of candles were placed at the base of a tree along with roses and a big teddy bear as a group of about 10 people, mostly young girls, looked on.

"I think it's like, a tradition in urban neighborhoods," said his sister, Andrea Brockington, 23.

Brockington said the viewing and funeral will take place in the coming days. "It's getting harder and harder. We're not ready to say goodbye," she said. "We don't understand. He didn't do anything to anybody. He was always smiling."

She insisted Bowman was not involved in gang activity or drugs, though law enforcement sources say he was committed to the Department of Juvenile Services. (Juvenile records are sealed in Maryland, and the charges were unclear.)

A friend, who would identify himself only as a rapper named Young Champ, said Bowman was always "icy" - looking his best - and didn't need to sell drugs to do it. "He was the freshest ... out here, and he ain't selling" anything, he said.

"We miss him like crazy. They didn't have to do what they did," Brockington said.

She said Bowman will be buried on top of his mother, who died in 2002, in a Randallstown cemetery.

Around the corner, Wilson's family and friends were just wrapping up a vigil to mark his birthday. Wilson was shot to death Aug. 11, and Mylar balloons, candles and a bottle of alcohol were left at a utility pole.

"It was a celebration," said a woman who identified herself as a sister before climbing into a car. "He was a good guy. It wasn't meant for him."

A few men hung around. One of them, Wilson's godfather, said he was on the scene right after the shots were fired and saw Wilson suffering.

"I haven't been right since," he said.

Like Bowman, Wilson had a child, friends said - and had another child on the way - and was interested in music. They said violence in their neighborhood is common - one man said there had been a shooting earlier in the day - but "it's a lot different when it's this close to home."

"You never get used to it, but at the same times, it's just something that happens," one of the men said.

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