My brother called me at work on Monday morning, June 21.
"Do you remember Pep?" he asked.
"Of course," I said. How could I forget Pep: handsome, good head on his shoulders.
"Pep is dead," my brother said.
We both fell silent.
Pep, otherwise known as David Moncrieffe, had been murdered at a nightclub in the wee hours of Sunday morning after bumping into someone on the dance floor. He apologized, but the man shot and killed him.
I shook my head in disbelief.
As a member of the Coolidge Senior High School class of '99, I remembered Pep well. He was star athlete for our football team, the Coolidge Colts, and he and my brother were teammates. I saw a lot of Pep in those days, and I knew many of the football players. They called me "Little Al" because my brother's name is Alvin. Pep was like family.
Five years ago, after the last class of the 20th century walked across the makeshift stage in Coolidge gymnasium, some of us made an unspoken pledge to keep abreast of everyone's progress.
So from a distance, I kept track of Pep, class of '98. He went from being a good kid to being an excellent man.
To those who saw him only on the football field, he might have seemed to be just another jock, but those of us who were fortunate enough to know him thought he was destined for greatness.
Pep went on to Waynesburg (Pa.) College, where he received a degree in communications. He became a teacher, working with mentally and physically disabled children at Children's Hospital. Pep also served as a mentor at a District Boys & Girls Club.
I never heard anything bad about Pep. He didn't commit crimes, he didn't sell drugs, he didn't have a destructive lifestyle; in short, he was one of the best things ever to come out of Coolidge High.
During those moments of silence on the phone with my brother, I remembered the school pep rallies. Pep was such a good player that it was almost as if those rallies at Coolidge were named after him.
At one before a homecoming game, two members of the school choir serenaded Pep with a gospel song containing no lyrics but the repetition of "Amen." Except, the singers replaced the syllable "men" with "Pep." The audience thundered along in tone-deaf enthusiasm, celebrating a true star in their midst. We didn't really think our team was going to win that game, but we were acknowledging that Pep was a great linebacker and an even better person.
Less than a year ago, I saw Pep at the Caribbean Festival on Pennsylvania Avenue. He was walking along Freedom Plaza, still with the same smile, the same greeting and the same good head on his shoulders.
"Hey, Little Al!" he yelled. "Tell your brother to call me!"
I am not the only one who loved and respected Pep. When news of his death rippled through the ranks of Coolidge High graduates -- mainly from the classes of '97, '98 and '99 -- the reaction was sheer disbelief. People began their sentences with, "It was just the other day that I was talking to Pep," or "I just saw Pep." Even some of Pep's normally macho friends wept openly on hearing of his death.
David "Pep" Moncrieffe was killed in the most mindless, barbaric way -- in cold blood. When will these senseless murders stop?
-- Alesha Jones