For the second time in less than 24 hours, students at Suitland High School are mourning the death of a classmate.
Just after 5:30 p.m. Feb. 19 in Forestville, a double shooting in the 3700 block of Donnell Drive left an 18-year-old freshman dead and another 18-year-old dying
The latest shooting victim was identified as Aaron Kidd, a student at Suitland High School. Theresa Williams, the victim’s mother, said Feb. 20 that her son had a severe learning disability and had recently returned to school after taking some time off.
The second victim in the Feb. 19 shooting, 18 year-old Andre Walter Shuford, was pronounced dead Feb. 20, police said. He was not a Suitland student, according to authorities.
The latest spasm of gunplay brings to six the total number of Prince George’s County School students slain during the 2012-2013 school year and came a day after the fifth shooting death, also a Suitland High School student.
A little less than five miles away from Donnell Drive, in the 4000 block of 8th Avenue in Hillcrest Heights, Suitland High School student Charles Chuck Walker Jr. was shot to death allegedly over a pair of Timberland boots on Feb. 18.
“This is not some wild crime spree,” said Angela Alsobrooks, Prince George’s County states attorney. “This is a social problem that really stems from what’s happening with our young people and if we don’t address that problem then we continue to react over and over.”
Briant K. Coleman, spokesperson for county schools, released a statement the evening of the seconded shooting saying, “We are horrified to learn that tragedy struck another one of our students within a 24-hour-time-span. We cannot go another day without addressing these unspeakable acts of violence against our students.”
Less than two blocks from his home, 15-year-old Walker was shot once in the back, said Prince George’s County Police Chief Mark A. Magaw at a press conference Feb.19. He was found at roughly 4:20 p.m. by law enforcement officers and was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
The teenager was carrying a pair of boots in a shoe store shopping bag and handing them to his girlfriend when he was approached by the assailants. The boots were left at the scene, said Magaw.
On Feb. 20 police arrested five men and charged them with first-degree murder in the Walker shooting. Police identified them as Derryck Antonio Green, 20, of the 900 block of North Henry Street in Alexandria, Jermani Maurice Whitner, 18, of the 2900 block of Saint Clair Drive in Temple Hills, Glenn Cornell Leach, 23, of the 1000 block of Southern Ave., S.E. in D.C., Tayvon Delonte Williams, 21, of the 6400 block of Livingston Road in Oxon Hill, and Kevin J. Smith, 21, of the 2900 block of Saint Clair Drive in Temple Hills.
In another statement from the school system Coleman said, We are deeply saddened by the tragic death of one of our students. These senseless acts of violence against our children are becoming all too familiar and far too common.
Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker issued a statement Feb 20 asking faith leaders, non-profits, civic associations and residents to stand with local law enforcement and school officials to address the tragic trend.
As a father of three students who grew up in Prince George’s County, Baker said he is assembling a team of leaders from the police and sheriff’s department to youth and family services to look at ways government can attack this problem holistically.
In August 2012, Charles H. Flowers High School honors student Amber D. Stanley was slain when a gunman kicked in the door to the Stanley home, climbed the stairs and shot the 17-year-old senior several times while she lay in her bed.
Stanley, a well-liked student, according to police officials, had aspirations to go to Harvard University to study medicine. Law enforcement officials said it appeared the suspect was targeting someone specifically, as nothing was taken from the home. None of the other three people, who escaped during the shooting, was injured.
A month later, 18-year-old Marckel Norman Ross, was shot and killed while walking his normal 1.5 mile route to school from his Capitol Heights home on Abel Ave. A junior at Central High School, Ross ran track, was involved in the high school’s ROTC and modeling programs.
Elizer Benjamin Reyes, 14, was fatally injured in a drive-by shooting Dec. 5, just three weeks before Christmas in the Lewisdale area.
On Jan. 20, 16-year-old Marcus Antonio Jones was gunned down leaving a birthday party in the 7700 block of Webster Lane. As he headed to his car, the Friendly High School sophomore was killed in a gang feud. Akil Darnell Ings, 17, and Kquantae Markies Fisher, 19, were charged with first-degree murder in the slaying.
Two of the murders of high school students in the Prince George’s County School System have been solved thus far, said Magaw. He suspects the other two, which occurred before Walker’s, will be solved in the coming week and a half.
“We are significantly down in homicides,” said Magaw. “Robberies this year so far are down 25 percent But they don’t mean anything when you have a young person killed in a community.”
“We can arrest. We can prosecute. And we can send them to jail, but it still doesn’t solve it unless we deal with our young people,” said Alsobrooks during the press conference.