McKenzie Elliott, the toddler murdered Aug. 1 while playing on her porch in Baltimore City.

The 3600 block of Old York Road was quiet on the Monday after McKenzie Elliott was killed, Aug. 1, while playing on her porch. McKenzie had been given permission to play outside by her uncle Charles Coley, who was keeping vigil over the toddler when she was murdered by a drive-by bullet.

Coley described McKenzie to the AFRO as “a loving baby. She just wanted to come outside and play and I let her come outside and play.” Coley spoke sparingly, still processing his grief.

“She shouldn’t have lost her life,” said a woman who identified herself as McKenzie’s cousin.

As of Aug. 4, the 2014 homicide total for Baltimore City is 122 and there have been 212 non-fatal shootings, according to Baltimore City Police Department (BCPD) spokesman Det. Jeremy Silbert. Both figures represent a decline compared to the same time last year, when the city had seen 140 homicides, and 243 non-fatal shootings.

Nonetheless, a community mourns the death of another Black child in a city that suffers this sort of loss all too often. “I used to see her out there running and playing,” said a neighbor who declined to give her name. “It’s sad. What happened is sad but it is what it is. A three year old. We don’t have the right to kill anybody but when you take a child’s life, an innocent child that hurts. It hurts.”

“When I was growing up there wasn’t anything like this,” said Linda, a resident of Baltimore for 50 years. “I mean, we had violence, but young people just killing each other left and right? It’s ridiculous.”

According to Det. Brandon Echevarria, another BCPD spokesperson, detectives are still investigating the murder, but no new information has come to light. Police are asking that anyone with information step forward, something they can do anonymously by calling 410-396-2100, or 1-866-7LOCKUP. There is a potential reward of up to $2,000.

The Rev. Dr. Andre Humphrey, trauma response team leader and community district liaison officer for the BCPD, thinks the amount needs to be higher. “We want the churches to step up,” said Humphrey, who called on the city’s faith community to help increase the reward. “The churches, if they stood up right now, took an offering, and said we’re going to put up a $20,000, $25,000 reward to catch this perpetrator, or perpetrators, I guarantee you they’d be caught before the week is out.”

Apostle Clarence Hooper, a member of Humphrey’s response team who was on Old York Road with Humphry to check on McKenzie’s relatives, called on the city’s leadership to make more progress in reducing violence. “I feel that, basically, all the political folks should step up to the plate and really get some things done,” said Hooper, “because there’s too much violence. There’s too much killing. There’s too much of this stuff going on out here, and there need to be some changes . . . because too many of our young people are dying by the wayside.”

A couple blocks south of Coley’s home, a man who gave the name Puff walked down the street with his own baby son on his shoulders. “Felt that was real messed up,” he said about McKenzie’s murder. “I feel straight for their peoples. The mother and the father. didn’t deserve that.”

Roberto Alejandro

Special to the AFRO