More than 100 people attended a candlelight vigil Thursday night to honor Marckel Norman Ross, a junior at Central High School in Capitol Heights who was fatally shot on his way to school this week.
Prayers were offered. Poems were read. And tears were shed.
The 18-year-old’s friends and family talked about the last time they saw him. Some expressed forgiveness for his killer. Others could not hold back their anger.
“I pray for the one who pulled the trigger,” said a young girl who read a poem. “I wonder if he knew he was about to change lives. . . Death where is your victory?”
Many said they still didn’t understand how someone, wearing a uniform, could be killed walking to school.
“He was on his way to school,” said a woman identified as Ross’s sister. “He was doing something he was supposed to do.”
The vigil for the teenager was held in the 6100 block of Central Avenue, near the spot where he was gunned down while walking to school on Tuesday. Police have said they have leads but no suspects in the slaying.
Before the vigil, police and school officials held a back-to-school meeting where they tried to reassure parents about safety measures that have been taken at the school and in the community.
“We work with the school team to make sure [the school] is the safest place it can possibly be,” said Charoscar Coleman, Central High’s principal. “We have no intention of having anyone stop our students from being successful.”
Maj. George Nader with the county Police Department said officers have worked closely with school officials in the past. For example, Nader said officers have patrolled the area after school to ensure safety. Those patrols are now taking place in the morning, he said.
Briant Coleman, a spokesman for the school system, said a forum will be held in the next two weeks for school and police officials to address the community.
A memorial is planned at the school on Friday afternoon, during which students will release light blue balloons.
Funeral services for Ross will be held Thursday, Sept. 20, at Jericho City of Praise in Landover. The viewing is scheduled for 10 a.m., and the service begins at 11 a.m.
Coleman said a memorial fund has been set up to offset the cost of the funeral and burial. Donations can be made to Central High School c/o Marckel Ross Memorial Fund, 200 Cabin Branch Rd., Capitol Heights, Md., 20743.
Ross, a track athlete who loved dancing, is the second Prince George’s high school student fatally shot this school year.
Amber Stanley, 17, of Kettering was shot to death inside her bedroom at her family’s home Aug. 22. Police said they will be handing out flyers and talking to residents in Kettering and Mitchellville on Friday in an effort to find a suspect and motive in the killing of the Charles E. Flowers High School student.
Police will begin community outreach at 8 a.m. at the Starbucks in the Kettering Plaza Shopping Center, 10600 Campus Way South in Upper Marlboro, then at 10 a.m. in the Mitchellville Shopping Center, 12164 Central Ave. in Mitchellville.
Police said that anyone with information about either slaying can call 1-866-411-TIPS.