Barbara Merriweather wondered yesterday when the killings will stop. Too many young black men already have been killed, she said, and now her son, too. Surrounded by her husband, children, sisters and parents, she sorted through pictures and remembered Kendall.
He was 17. Although he didn't frequent go-go clubs, his mother said, Kendall loved to play the raw, pulsating music on his boom box. Friday, on the way to Frank W. Ballou High School where he attended special classes because of a learning disability, he walked down Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE blasting the music of his favorite group, Little Bennie and the Masters.
At the corner of Raleigh Street in Congress Heights, he was gunned down by two youths. The batteries he had just bought for the boom box fell to the ground along with the books he was carrying for his brother Fontaine.
Two suspects, also 17, were arraigned in D.C. Superior Court yesterday on felony murder charges and ordered held without bond. They are charged as adults, but police would not release their names.
Kendall Merriweather, his mother said, died for no reason. Senselessly, like so many others. A police detective, Forest Hamlin, dropped by to give an update on the investigation. Merriweather's mother listened, then repeated her intent to do something to stop the killings.
"After this is over, I'm thinking about getting together with some of the mothers of children that have been murdered . . . because something needs to be done. Kendall was just growing up, being a young man."
The family chatted in their Marshall Heights home about crime and violence destroying too many of today's youth.
"If this is the future," said Nadine Walton-Alston, Kendall Merriweather's aunt, "we're all dead."
At a home in Congress Heights, where one of the suspects lives, a man who said he has been like the youth's father for eight years sat and waited for word on the case. The man, 41, said the youth's mother had been hospitalized since Tuesday with asthma and pneumonia and had been under sedation since she heard the news of her son's arrest.
The man said police told him that the teen-ager he called "son" fired once at Merriweather, then again when Merriweather fell.
Earlier in the week, the youth brought home a magazine, the 1988 annual of Guns and Ammo. The youth, who he said dropped out of Ballou and was attending a program to earn a general equivalency diploma, is not violent and obeys the curfews set down for him, the man said.
Lately, though, "It's like he wants to be the macho one of the bunch," the man said. The adults talked to the youth about the gun magazine. "I said, 'Look, let's get this out of your mind,' " the man said.
"I don't understand it," he said of the shooting.
Fontaine Merriweather, 15, said he and his brother took a bus to a McDonald's restaurant on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE and stopped in for a snack before school Friday. Kendall walked alone to school while Fontaine joined a friend.
Witnesses, whose information quickly led to the arrests, said two youths approached Kendall at Raleigh Street. One of the youths took the boom box, then pulled a gun and fired. Kendall fell, tried to get up, then fell again.
It was the second time he had been robbed.
A month ago, while walking home from his night job at a Roy Rogers fast-food restaurant on Suitland Parkway, he was robbed on the street, his mother said.
"We heard him hit the door. He said, 'Mama, they just stuck me up at gunpoint and took my box,' " she said.