Michael A. Bassett was buried yesterday in a black gown and mortarboard. Because he was killed nine days before he was to graduate from Oxon Hill High School, his funeral was the only chance for his relatives and friends to see him in the attire normally associated with new starts and boundless futures.
In single file, somber teenagers shuffled quietly and paused at the open coffin. "Handsome," some said. "Peaceful," said others.
After the coffin was carried from Garden Memorial Presbyterian Church in Southeast Washington, they stood in a morning drizzle and offered other words: "senseless," "tragic," "a real wake-up call."
Later yesterday, a second suspect was arrested in the death early Sunday of Bassett, 18, who was beaten, left on a busy road and struck by cars outside a 7-Eleven in Suitland. Bassett was killed after he offered to buy a Slurpee for a girl he did not know.
The suspect arrested shortly after 6 p.m. was identified by Prince George's County as James Jarrell White, 18, of the 1600 block of V Street SE in the District. He was arrested there on a fugitive warrant, county police said. Police said that they had obtained a warrant charging him with first-degree murder.
"He was developed as a suspect based on tips that came in" and video made by a surveillance camera at the store, said Cpl. Diane Richardson, the county police spokeswoman.
A man who answered the phone listed at the address given for White would not comment.
Emmanuel A. McClain, 16, was the first suspect arrested in the case. He was charged as an adult with murder. He has been identified as a Suitland High School student, and police said White also attended Suitland at one time.
Police said they would not give details on what role either suspect might have played in the attack. But police gave what appeared to be new information about the attack. They said that during the assault in the roadway, Bassett's shoes, shirt and money were taken from him. Police said the shirt was found about two blocks from where Bassett was struck.
Police have said as many as eight people may have taken part in the attack but fewer may have been involved in the beating in the roadway.
Speaking yesterday of Bassett, Cara Champion, one of his classmates said: "I'm just going to really miss him. He wouldn't harm anybody, but many people harmed him."
As mourners filled the small chapel where the funeral was held, or huddled in the lobby or stood outside on steps or the lawn, several said their grief would not be eased by arrests.
"He'll still be gone," said Josh Adams, 18, who stood with his friends near the limousine waiting for Bassett's family.
Adams, Champion and dozens of other youths wore black-and-white T-shirts with an image of Bassett's smiling face ironed on. "Rest In Peace" and "In Loving Memory," the shirts read, referring to Bassett by his nickname, "Block."
"Every week there's a funeral for a victim of violence," the Rev. H. Joseph Franklin Sr., pastor of Second Baptist Church SW in Washington, said during the service. "It's an epidemic. The violence is on that level."
In praying for Bassett's family -- his mother, brother, uncles, grandmothers, aunts and niece, all sitting in the first two rows -- Franklin urged the community to demand changes. Frustration and anger over the death are useless, he said, unless the mourners use those emotions for good.
Prince George's County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D), who attended the service, agreed. When he was state's attorney, he said, he "saw too many young men who lost their lives."
"Commit yourselves to changing the situation," Johnson told the 300 mourners, most of them teenagers.
After the ceremony -- as Bassett's mother, Jeannie, headed to the limousine and wailed: "My God! My God!" -- Police Chief Melvin C. High stood on a sidewalk with his hat in his hands and said he had overseen investigations of many senseless slayings in his 35-year career.
"People now kill for any and every thing, and that's an unfortunate thing," he said to reporters. "But part of the service was about turning that around so people can do good instead of doing bad."
Bassett, who recently became a certified lifeguard and was scheduled to begin work Memorial Day at Foxhill North Apartments in Oxon Hill, stopped with two friends at the 7-Eleven in the 5400 block of Silver Hill Road in Suitland about 3:15 a.m. after a night of dancing.
His friends also were assaulted but not seriously hurt. Police said Bassett and his attackers apparently were strangers.
Champion said the Oxon Hill High School graduation ceremony, scheduled for Wednesday, is no longer an event she anticipates with excitement. "It's just going to be a sad day," she said, her eyes moist and lips pursed. "We're just all going to be missing Block."
Police officials asked for continued help from the public to identify others involved in the beating, though a flood of information has poured in. "We continue to work on the leads that we have, in regards to any other suspects," Richardson said. "More arrests are possible."
County police said that White was arrested by the county police repeat offenders unit, along with the D.C. police department and the U.S. Marshals Service.
Staff writer Martin Weil contributed to this report.