Nearly a month after police say a D.C. resident fatally shot a 13-year-old boy who was trying to break into cars in the man’s neighborhood — and a day after the resident, Jason Lewis, pleaded not guilty to a charge of second-degree murder — the slain youth’s mother stood at a lectern in her lawyer’s office, struggling to compose herself.
Facing journalists and news cameras Wednesday, Londen Blake, 30, was about to talk publicly for the first time since the death of her son Karon Blake, who police say was on Quincy Street NE with two possible acquaintances when the shooting occurred around 4 a.m. on Jan. 7. As the grieving mother, in a black beret and sunglasses, wobbled slightly and drew deep breaths, almost a minute went by before she was able to speak.
“Despite the time of the day it was — despite, like, all of that — you know, children are children,” she began, in a quiet voice. “Some of them grow up too fast. Some of them do things that they’re not supposed to do. And some of us parents are not aware at all times. What I can say is that Karon came from a good home. And I tried my best with him. But Jason Lewis — he had no right. He had no right.”
In a meeting room at the Cochran Firm in downtown D.C., she wore a pendant with the word “SON,” and inside the “O” was a tiny photo of Karon, who was a seventh-grader and the oldest of four siblings.
“Everybody is, like, ‘What is he doing out at 4 a.m.?’” Blake said. “Like, would you all feel better if it was at 4 p.m.? A crime is a crime, and that’s just that. He took my baby, my firstborn. And it’s messed up.” She added: “I’ve got to live with it. But I really hope I get justice for my child. And I hope the man is convicted to the highest. Justice for Karon.”
After Lewis, 41, who had a D.C. permit to carry a concealed handgun, emerged from his house in the Brookland neighborhood with a pistol, police said, Karon may have initially tried to get into a vehicle with the possible acquaintances to get away. Police said Lewis first fired at the vehicle, then at Karon, who was running toward him. The others fled and have not been identified, police said.
Lewis, who has been placed on leave from his $75,000-a-year job with the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation, surrendered to police Tuesday after being charged in the case. He is being held in the D.C. jail pending a preliminary hearing later this month. While authorities say Karon was unarmed and that the shooting was unjustified, Lewis’s attorney said in a statement, “The public will see, no crime was committed here.”
In an affidavit filed in D.C. Superior Court, police said Karon’s last words before the shooting were recorded on surveillance videos: “I’m sorry. … Please don’t. … No. … I am a kid.” His mother said she learned of those words Tuesday when the affidavit was made public.
“I was devastated,” she said. “That hurt me to the core. I did the funeral. I buried him,” which was “like a little relief — just a little bit. And when I heard that … it broke me.”
She has 6-year-old twins, a boy and a girl, and a 9-year-old daughter. She said of Karon: “I counted on him. … He helped me in my household. I don’t live with a man. I live with me and my four children,” now three children. Asked about Karon’s hopes for the future, she said, “He wanted to grow old with his mother and his siblings.”
One of her attorneys, Brian McDaniel, said she was unaware that Karon was outside in the early hours of Jan. 7, and that she thought he was at home asleep.
“Kids do things that parents aren’t always aware of,” Blake said. “But he came from a good home. He didn’t need for anything. But kids get with other kids and they make silly decisions. … Like, you can talk until you’re blue in the face to your child. But if their mind is set on what they want to do, then that’s what they want to do. All we have to do as parents … is try our best.”
As for the possible acquaintances who are still being searched for by the police, she said she had nothing to say to them — only to their parents:
“Keep your babies close,” she said. “That’s it. Keep your babies close. That’s it. That’s all.”