Kareem was fatally shot early Sunday in the 1300 block of Maple View Place SE, a block south of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue and steps from where he lived with his mother and brothers.
Police said that it appears nine shots were fired and that Kareem, an 11th-grader, was struck once. He died at a hospital. As of Monday evening no arrest had been made, and police provided no other details of the case.
It was the District’s 165th killing in a year in which homicides have spiked 15 percent. There were 166 slayings in all of 2019, a decade high. Kareem was among 10 juveniles killed in the District this year between the ages of 11 and 17. There have been 11 homicides in Anacostia in 2020, up from three at this time in 2019, D.C. police statistics show.
Kareem was the middle child of seven boys, raised by a single mother who runs a nonprofit called Evelyn’s Closet, providing clothes to needy people, in addition to her full-time job. She was profiled on NBC4 News in 2016.
The mother was too distraught to talk on Monday, and questions about Kareem were answered by his adult cousin Tamika, who did not provide her last name. His mother listened to the interview on a speaker phone.
Tamika said Kareem’s mother would take him and his siblings to Anacostia Park. He boxed at a gym, she said, “and he wanted to explore the world, find out what his options were. He had an open heart and an open mind.”
Those who knew the teenager described him as reserved with a good sense of humor. They said he was respectful and a good listener, a young man who would rather stay inside playing video games than hanging out on the street. But he wanted to go out Halloween night, Tamika said, and he left that night with his younger brothers. He was killed hours later, about 1 a.m. His brothers were not with him at the time.
Kareem attended Richard Wright Public Charter School from eighth through 10th grade and transferred to another school to be with his siblings, according to Marco Clark, the charter school’s founder. His family said he had been attending Eastern Senior High School.
Clark said Kareem showed up to school each day and completed his work so that he could pass his classes and be on the football team. Clark said Kareem was behind in his academics when he entered the school but was motivated to catch up and frequently received tutoring from teachers. He said Kareem had challenges outside of school, and the football team kept him busy.
“He was an awesome young man with a lot of potential;, he was beginning to come into his own,” Clark said.
The teen’s mentor, 34-year-old Brown, works for the District’s parks and recreation department. On the side, he works in urban agricultural programs and is a member of the Black Farmers Collective.
Brown said he met Kareem at a community event when Kareem was 11 or 12 years old. Brown took Kareem, his mother and two of his brothers on a camping retreat on the Eastern Shore, where they joined dozens of other families at a Mid-Atlantic agricultural event.
Over time, Brown said he took Kareem back to the Eastern Shore to buy watermelons, which they would then sell at markets and street corners around the District. He also got Kareem into the hot sauce business. The young man helped out at a community kitchen making Soilful’s Pippin Sauce, named after locally grown pepper seeds that had been passed down after being saved by Black artist and World War I veteran Horace Pippin.
Brown said he paid Kareem to sell the sauce throughout the area and in Baltimore. The sauce made it to the shelves of Whole Foods in the District, and Brown said he took Kareem to a store to show him the product and what was possible.
Brown said the violence the District is experiencing appears to be passed down through the years, “pain that hasn’t been treated from past generations.” The challenge, he said, “is what can we do to make this a better city so kids can really live and be healthy.”