By Stephen Janis, Special to the AFRO
Baltimore is on pace to break three hundred homicides for a fifth consecutive year.
But, the execution style slaying last week of Gerald Brown II, a local basketball legend and community leader reveals how a single death radiates pain throughout the community in unexpected ways.
Brandi Proctor, a reporter for Fox 45 News, bereaved by the death of her cousin Brown gathered with friends at Mo’s Seafood near Harbor East to toast him shortly after he was gunned down in Northwest Baltimore on June 7. But, it was in that moment she found affirmation his untimely passing would be felt far beyond the family and friends mourning his loss.
“We raised our glasses and said his name,” she recounted to the AFRO. “And the bartender overheard us and said she was crying yesterday when they heard the news, they all knew and loved him.”
Proctor’s is just one of many stories told to the AFRO about Brown as the city reels from the death of the former college basketball star (Loyola University Maryland), Instagram impresario, and father of two. It is a story that not only reveals the seemingly low threshold for violence in the city, but how a single murder touches dozens of lives.
Friends described Brown as ebullient, joyous, with a sharp wit and a strong sense of irony. He was an involved father, who encouraged his son to follow in his footsteps on the basketball court.
Videos posted on social media show him dancing in shorts after a mid-winter snowstorm. They also depict Brown leading a protest during the 2015 Uprising after the death of Freddie Gray in police custody.
But, just as much as he was beloved in the city, his killers exhibited a level of ruthlessness that speaks to the city’s destructive and vengeful pathos.
Witnesses who spoke to the AFRO on the condition their identity would not be revealed said that Brown had just left a barbershop on Ayrdale Ave. when a car approached. The driver chased Brown as he ran down the street, striking him near the 3700 blk. of W. Forest Park Ave. The gunman then got out of the car and shot him in the head.
Police did not respond to emails seeking comment on the case. The motive for the execution style slaying is still unclear.
To lessen the pain for both Brown’s loved ones and the community where the killing occurred, the barbershop’s owner Sean Weston plans to hold a Father’s Day block gathering to honor him on June 16.
“It’s a Father’s Day celebration in remembrance,” Weston said. “We want to honor his memory because it happened in our community.”
Weston hopes the gesture will help the community heal. “We want people to know that we care.”
Funeral arrangements for Brown had not been announced at press time.