“It is just so devastating,” said Theresa Williams, the mother of Aaron Kidd, the student killed at the complex. “This should not have happened to any family.”
The anger and sadness were visible Wednesday night as more than 200 people, most of them teenagers, poured into a shopping center parking lot in Hillcrest Heights to commemorate Charles Walker Jr., a 15-year-old freshman at Suitland High School who was killed Monday. The site is about a block from where Walker was shot.
Some youths cried. Others shouted and shoved each other. The outbursts forced dozens of teenagers to scatter in fear of further violence, despite a bolstered police presence.
“We lost a good one out here. We lost a good soldier out here for no good . . . reason,” Lester Massey Jr., Walker’s uncle, told the crowd.
In an interview, Massey said that he spoke with his nephew shortly before the shooting and that Walker said he was happy. The teenager told Massey he had just bought a pair of Timberland boots for his girlfriend, the pair of shoes that led to a robbery and, authorities think, cost him his life.
The burst of mayhem brings the county’s homicide count to 15 this year, compared with 10 by this point in 2012. It also brings to six the number of Prince George’s County school students slain since the start of the current school year.
None of those slayings are believed to be connected, and no killing of a student is linked to another, police said. Still, the violence has sparked fears that crime might be ticking up in a county where 64 people were killed last year, a historic low.
“It’s just getting worse,” said Telita Plummer, 56, who on Wednesday was having her car worked on at the gas station where the Baltimore man was shot. The police are good, she said, “but it’s like it doesn’t matter.”
As nerve-rattling as the latest incident is, it does not mark the most severe spate of violence in recent years in Prince George’s. In January 2011, 15 people were killed, 12 of them in 11 days. Total violent crime is down nearly 17 percent compared with the same period last year, and overall crime is down 10 percent, according to police statistics.
Prince George’s Police Chief Mark A. Magaw said Wednesday that police are working tirelessly to quell the deadly violence.
“Nobody wants this,” he said. “Not our community, not this department.”
Williams last saw her son Tuesday morning, when she took him to breakfast at Chick-fil-A and then dropped him off at Suitland High School. Kidd, who was in the ninth grade because he has a learning disability and had recently returned to school after a year off — told her, “Mommy, I’ll see you later” before the two parted ways.