Tuesday, April 28, 2009

For Bradley Cleveland

I found this remnant of police crime tape secured over a high wire in an apartment complex in the 4200 block of 4th Street SE, Washington DC. It is for Bradley Cleveland, 22 years old.

Police responded to a gunshot on the midnight shift, April 13, 2009. They learned on arrival that Mr. Cleveland had been taken to a hospital in a private vehicle, where he died.

I spoke at some length with a resident of the complex. She told me that the security cameras on the buildings don't work, haven't for a long time, and that the crime in the area is frightening. She hoped people would come to understand the troubles good residents of the community must suffer with, and help them in their wishes and efforts to rebuild their safety.

Caution. To the wind.

Shrine for William Allen Carter- Nannie Helen Burroughs Ave NE

This shrine to William Allen Carter is in the busy intersection of the 4100 block of Nannie Helen Burroughs Avenue NE, Washington DC, just beneath a railroad bridge, by the end of an exit ramp from the Anacostia Freeway.

Police responded to a report of a shooting at 3:10 pm on April 10, 2009. Emergency medical personnel took Mr. Carter to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Abdul Muhammad, 37, was arrested and charged with his murder on May 2nd.

Shrine for the Woods-Bilotti family, Middletown, Maryland

Three children and two adults died on April 18, 2009, in what authorities believe is a murder-suicide inside a house in the first block of Washington Street, in Middletown, Maryland.

Members of the comunity built a beautiful large shrine on the house where the killings occurred. Colorful memorial ribbons were tied on poles throughout this otherwise bucolic town just outside of Frederick, Maryland, at the far outer rim of the Washington, DC metropolitan area.

Compiled from the Frederick News-Post and the Washington Post:

Christopher A. Wood, 34 is believed to have shot his wife, Francie Bilotti-Wood, 33 and their children. Mrs. Bilotti-Woods, Chandler, 5, Gavin, 4, and Fiona, 2, who were in their pajamas - had each been shot once, in the beds where they were found. Wood's body was on the floor of the couple's bedroom. Authorities said the victims also suffered "severe lacerations and cut wounds." A handgun and shotgun were found in the home.

Mr. Woods was deeply in debt, and it is believed to have been a motivating factor in the slaying.

Authorities said Chris Wood left five suicide notes in the house, one of which suggested that he had psychological problems and was taking medication. In at least one note, Wood apologized for what he did.

The Rev. Kevin Farmer, at nearby Holy Family Church, opened the memorial service by telling more than 400 somber parishioners that he had "no words" to describe the "unspeakable act" that Billotti-Wood, 33, and her three young children suffered at the hands of their husband and father. Deacon George Sisson's homily was largely devoted to the family. "We read about them in other places," he said of such events. "Now it's not other places. It's a couple blocks from this church."

Sheriff's deputies had never before been called to the family's house, & there was no known history of domestic violence.
As details of the couple's history emerged yesterday, a picture formed of a young family brimming with potential. Billotti-Wood's friends described her as having a "servant's heart," a talented, compassionate organizer with a résumé full of social service work and volunteerism.

Mr. Wood, who worked in railroad marketing and sales, seemed on a solid career path when the two married in Florida in 2003.

Some details from a police press conference:
-The two boys were found in their beds
-The mother & young girl were found together in the master bed
-The father was found on the floor at the foot of the master bed
-The father died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound; a shotgun was found close to his body
-The mother and children had all suffered traumatic cuts
-A mixed-breed dog was removed from the house unharmed
- Francie Wood’s father found the bodies this morning, upon visiting the house. He had not heard from the family in days.
-The Wood family had been living at the residence on Washington Street for four months.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

RIP "Head"

I visited this shrine to "Head" in the 3000 block of 30th St SE, Washington DC

The only name I have so far, is on the shrine as "Head." I found no name in police or news reports.

I found four "blunts"- mixtures of small cigars mixed with marijuana, on the shrine (a first in my experience). Several folks asked me what I was doing there - the neighborhood was unusually tense and defensive, and I have been in scores of similar situations. I only got that "Head" was young.

According to DC police, at approximately 9:14 pm, on Thursday April 9, 2009, members of the Department’s 7th District responded to a report of a shooting. Upon arrival on the scene, officers located an unidentified adult male suffering from apparent multiple gunshot wounds. Emergency personnel responded to the scene to initiate life saving measures, but found no signs consistent with life. The victim was pronounced dead on the scene & transported to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for the District of Columbia.

Mystery, fear, and heartache.

Flowers for Eugene Francis Neale Sr.

This small floral memorial is to Eugene Francis Neal Sr., of Hamlin St NE, Washington DC

At approximately 1:00 am, on Wednesday March 25, 2009, police responded to the intersection of 16th & Hamlin Sts. NE for the sounds of gunshots. Officers located an adult male suffering from apparent multiple gunshot wounds lying in the 1500 block of Hamlin St. Emergency personnel responded to the scene, but found no signs consistent with life. The victim was pronounced dead on the scene.
The victim has been identified as Eugene Francis Neal, Sr., 52, of the 1500 block of Hamlin Street, NE.

According to NewsChannel 8, the family is heartbroken. Mr. Neal, a Metro station manager, was gunned down about 1/2 hour after he got off work.

Neal's family says the man's teenage son, 14-year-old Eugene Neal Jr., was the center of his father's life. "He was a great man. He taught me a lot of things. He always kept me on the straight & narrow... They took my father from me. They took my friend. They took my feeling of safety in my own home."

"...My son didn't deserve to die. He didn't deserve to die this way," said Mary Neal, the victim's mother. "Please, please. If you know anything, turn yourself in," she pleaded.

The family says Neal wasn't robbed. They say his truck, keys & wallet were all with him. "They didn't steal anything. They didn't want anything. They just killed him."

No murder makes sense to me. This one seems particularly tragic and incomprehensible. I send a prayer to his family for stength.

Elwood C. Wallace, slain vendor

This shrine to Elwood Wallace is in the 2800 block of Good Hope Rd SE, Washington DC

DC police announced an arrest for the murder of Elwood Carl Wallace. Ronnell Calvin Knight, 54, of DC has been charged with Murder 1 While Armed.
Shortly before 6 pm on Friday March 27, 2009, police responded to the 2800 block of Good Hope Road SE, to investigate the report of a shooting. Upon arrival, officers found Elwood Carl Wallace, 52, of Upper Marlboro, MD, suffering from a gunshot wound. Emergency medical personnel could find no life signs. Mr. Wallace was pronounced dead on the scene.

According to the Washington Post, two witnesses allegedly saw Knight walk up behind Wallace and shoot him once in the back of the head in front of a vacant storefront, and then take off running.

Local residents erected this memorial on a tree near the site of the shooting, where Wallace sold lotion and oils from his sidewalk table.

I spoke to a pretty young book vendor whose tables are right next to this shrine. Apparently the two men in question had an argument earler in the day. She said the killing was in daylight. She got teary & quiet when speaking.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Shrines to William L. Bennett (Lt. Col, US Army Ret., and his wife, Cynthia Bennett

These roadside shrines are to William L. Bennett (Lt. Col, US Army Ret.), 57, and to his wife, Cynthia Bennett, 55, near the intersection of Rocky Creek Road and Riverside Parkway, in the Landsdowne area of Loudon County VA.
Landsdowne is a relatively new, spacious, and prosperous development community near the outer rim of Washington DC's Virginia suburbs.
According to the Washington Post, on March 22, 2009, at about 5:30 AM, police responding to reports of a suspicious white van, found the body of Mr. Bennett along Riverside Pkwy, and his terribly injured wife Cynthia in a ditch nearby. Both had been beaten, he to death. Mrs. Bennett remains in critical condition in a hospital under sherriff's guard. No concrete details of why the attack occurred are yet known. Colonel Bennett was an Iraq war veteran and a contractor for the CIA. A large march and shrine-side vigil was held by friends, family and neighbors one week after the murder. A local choir sang the hymn " Come By Here, Lord." Mr. Bennett was remembered as a family man, an avid long-distance hiker, and a diligent worker.

Cynthia Bennet's shrine consists entirely of flowers.

To justice, and to healing.

Update: Loudon County authorities have arrested Darwin Bowman, 18, of Annandale VA, and a 17-year old male from Sterling VA. in Mr. Bennett's killing. The attack is believed to have been a random "robbery gone bad." Prosecutors are assessing whether Mr. Bowman will face a death penalty at his trial. Additional arrests are likely.

Mrs. Bennett is now slowly recovering from her injuries.

Tyson Eldridge's shoes

These sneakers hanging over a wire are in memorial to Tyson Eldridge, 26. They are in front of his home in the 300 block of 37th Street SE Washington DC. He was killed by a stab wound on August 20, 2007 in the 1300 block of Corbin Place SE DC.

There is another shrine in this block, not 200 feet from where Mr. Eldridge's shoes are hang spinning in the breeze.

When will we, as a species, as individuals, learn the clear wisdom of the Sixth Commandment "You shall not kill."

Tai Lam; downtown Silver Spring shrine

This particularly emotion-laden shrine to Tai Lam, 14, is in the 900 block Ellsworth Avenue of Silver Spring, Maryland. The memorial in this busy mall area was erected and maintained by his friends and classmates at Montgomery Blair High School because Tai, a popular student, liked to hang out there.

According to the Blair High School newspaper, "Montgomery County police arrested Hector Mauricio Hernandez, 20, of Takoma Park, for the murder of young Mr. Lam. Hernandez is a member of the MS-13 gang.
Lam, & two others, aged 14 and 15, boarded a bus in Silver Spring with a large group of friends on Nov. 2, 2008. The three boys were shot around 11 p.m. after a verbal exchange with a group of older men. When the bus stopped at Arliss Street. & Piney Branch Road, the older group exited the bus. One of them fired into the back of the bus, hitting Lam and two other boys, who attend Blair & Northwood High School.
Tai Lam died later that night. The other boys were taken to Georgetown Hospital in critical condition. Both have since been released."

It is the first shrine to a murder I have encountered in Montgomery County.