“High School Basketball Standout Shot And Killed In City”

July 06, 2010 |

Indeed, that’s just one of the headlines I read in Baltimore’s media community, as it relates to John Crowder’s murder over the July 4th weekend.

Specifically, Crowder was found early yesterday – in a grassy area on the city’s eastside. He suffered numerous gunshot wounds and died a few hours later at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Any death is a sad event. And, any violent demise or murder is certainly troubling. Yet, the killing of John Crowder is even more harrowing, as it relates to the very humane (or inhumane) aspect of losing a life.

He was a star player at Our Lady Of Mount Carmel.

He was 17 years old.

He was just a couple years older than my child. He wasn’t old enough to vote or even make legal decisions for himself. He was a kid …..

I don’t know the circumstances revolving around John Crowder’s death, nor the means by which he was living his life. However, I do know that teenagers aren’t supposed to die, nor are they supposed to end up in Emergency Rooms with gunshot wounds.

Was he doing something wrong? Was he running with a crowd that wages relentless violence at a whim? Was his family aware of his vices and habits? Heck, did they know where he was celebrating his 4th of July?

I’m not naive – I realize many kids run Baltimore’s streets with little, if any parental intervention. That’s an epidemic of its own.

But, I can’t sit here and label John Crowder, either. I didn’t know him. I didn’t know his name, until yesterday. For all I do know, he might’ve been one of HUNDREDS of Baltimore’s teens who were enjoying an especially late night on the heels of fireworks and celebration.

I live in a good community; a safe community. Yet, we still had people mulling around after midnight.

That said, none of my neighbors or their kids lost their lives before sunrise.

John Crowder’s family acknowledges that he was “attracted to the streets” and in fairness to this discussion, he has been in legal trouble. While these realities are certainly a consideration for determining why he died, I don’t think it’s prudent to simply assume he was doing something wrong.

As of now, we just know some simple tidbits about the situation. Or, do we …..

The headlines say “High School Basketball Standout Shot And Killed In City.”

Is that accurate? Better yet, is it fair? I don’t think so.

John Crowder is the 105th person murdered, in Baltimore, in 2010. While the city’s homicide rates are down, in comparison to past years, 105 people have still died, violently.

And, make no mistake about it, John Crowder’s young death was not unique. Only July 1st, 16-year old Renardo Bloom died from a gunshot wound, less than a mile from the site where Crowder was found.

Was Renardo Bloom a hoops star? Did he want to play in the NBA? Did he have dreams? I don’t know …..

But, I do know that he shared a distinct similarity to John Crowder. He was a KID.

The headline “High School Basketball Standout Shot And Killed In City” is not very accurate, as far as I’m concerned.

It would’ve been much more appropriate to simply say “Another Young Life Ends On Baltimore’s Streets.”

I would hate to think John Crowder will be remembered as a budding basketball talent.

Being human is much more significant.