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The Role of Her Life

The Shooting

"They saved my life," Felicia "Snoop" Pearson says of the producers of HBO's "The Wire" who hired her to play a hardened street character very much like, and named after, her. (By Marvin Joseph -- The Washington Post)

Snoop'll talk about anything and everything: growing up without her mama, selling drugs, smoking weed, being gay. But not that night.

Except to say this: "It's not true. I didn't do it. . . . I was babysitting." (And yet, she pleaded guilty.)

Mention it another time, and she'll shake her head.

"I'm saving that for my book," she says.

April 27, 1995.

It was a Thursday night, a school night, and Okia "Kia" Toomer had just run out to the store. She ended up in an alley around 9 p.m., not far from her house. There, Kia's grandmother, Sylvia Williams, says, and police records agree, "some girls got to fighting."

It's not clear what they were fighting about.

But one thing is clear, according to court records: Felicia Pearson pulled out a gun and fired it. Twice. The crowd scattered. Kia ran, too. But a bullet pierced her left buttock, tearing through nerves, veins and arteries before it exited the other side.

Kia fell down in the alley, calling out to a friend, who lay down with her, right there in the street, and waited for the ambulance, according to her grandmother. She died on the operating table at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

"At 11:02 p.m.," her grandmother says.

Kia was 15.

Snoop was 14.

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