By Alexis Taylor,
AFRO News Editor

Marie Berry can’t stay in her home anymore. But she also can’t bring herself to move the tennis shoes at the front door. 

She’s already begun packing up her house and many of her dreams.

Standing in the kitchen of the home she’s lived in for more than 15 years, she holds a picture of her only son, Marvin Pryor.

The 20-year-old was laid to rest on March 25. 

He took a lifetime of architectural brilliance with him.

“My son was a loving person- and a lot of people can say that- but he truly was,” said Berry, tears streaming down her face. “He didn’t have a bad bone in his body, even if he got into an argument with somebody- he would apologize because he couldn’t hold it on his conscience.”  

Pryor was a 2020 graduate of the Baltimore Design School (BDS) and often went back to lend a hand to his former teachers and speak encouraging words to current students.

He was also a help to his neighbors in the same Lakeland community where he was shot down, near the intersection of Hollins Ferry Road and West Patapsco Avenue.

Marie Berry holds a photo of her slain son, Marvin Pryor. The future architect had a passion for cooking and had convinced his mother to purchase a food truck and buy land to design and build her a house. Berry now says hopes of operating the food truck and living on the land she purchased are too painful to bear.

“Marvin was very unique. When school let out, he checked in here and there every year!” said former classmate Jamera H., in a tribute put together by BDS. “He knew how to lighten up a room. He was very genuine and kind.” 

After graduating from BDS, Pryor went to the University of the District of Columbia for architecture and was happy to return to school after the university wiped out $10,000 of a $12,000 bill that had delayed his matriculation. 

He was excited to return to classes, even though the scholarship that was paving the way for his return had come at a price. 

Berry said her son did not take the opportunity lightly, as the money he used to clear his remaining balance was donated from the scholarship fund created in honor of another slain Baltimore Design School student, Victorious Swift, killed in 2017. 

In a sick twist of fate experienced all too often by mothers of Black Baltimore, Berry now requests that expressions of love be poured into a scholarship fund to be set up in honor of her slain scholar and his unquenchable quest for knowledge.

The scholarship was one of the last things Pryor discussed with his “architecture mom” from BDS, teacher Katie Zaeh. 

“I’m heartbroken about Marvin. I just can’t wrap my head around it – he was just the best kid. I thought we had so much more time – I can’t express the loss I’m feeling – it’s the loss of a student and friend, and also of all those goals and ambitions I shared with him,” said Zaeh. “Marvin was always positive and ready to talk about his work and all the other preparations he was making for his future -colleges, portfolios, jobs, finances – he thought about it all. He was always in the architecture room working on scholarship applications.” 

Marvin Pryor’s life was taken on March 12th near the intersection of Hollins Ferry Road and West Patapsco Avenue. His shoes still sit at the entrance to his mother’s home, just blocks from where he was gunned down.

“Outside of school he would work on a sketchbook of inventions and have me review the work with him during class – he was full of ideas,” she recalled.

Law enforcement working the case declined to speak with the AFRO about the crime but said they are in regular contact with Pryor’s parents. 

Berry said police have told her there is video surveillance of her son’s death from stores surrounding the area where Pryor was killed on March 12. She told the AFRO the video shows her son leaving the area of the Royal Farms located at 2215 W Patapsco Ave. He is seen talking to someone, who then coldly fires a gun at his head when he turns around. 

“So many sons and daughters are fatherless or motherless- they’re not families and there’s no unity,” said Berry, when asked about the gun violence epidemic that has plagued the Black community for decades. “Back when I came up, we had a village that took care of the kids. There was no ‘stop snitching’ code- everyone told what was going on because we were a community.”

“Human life means nothing anymore,” she added. “Everyone wants to play God now. People are not taking the initiative to get their kids help. They’d rather see their kids in jail or they just don’t care. It’s just not like yesteryear. The village concept is gone.”

Christine Frederick, a Community School Site Specialist from BDS said she got to know Pryor during the ACE Mentor Program Industry Fair. 

“The next day, he was in my office with all of the business cards and materials he had collected, and we went over likely positions that he was interested in. Marvin was driven and had clear goals for his future,” said Frederick. “I teased him that he was starting to sound like my son when he was young, with all the ‘why’ questions…and maybe he should be a journalist if he were going to keep interviewing me.  He just laughed and kept on questioning.”

In addition to soaking up all the knowledge he could ahead of his architecture career, Pryor was known for his moves in the boxing ring and his work for the Downtown Sailing Association. 

A viewing was held for Marvin Pryor on March 24 at the Vaughn Green Funeral Home. The celebration of Pryor’s life was held on March 25 at Freedom Temple AMEZ Church. He leaves behind a mother, a father and three sisters. 

No one has come forward with information about the killing, which happened in broad daylight at one of the busiest intersections in the Lakeland area. 

Please contact Southern District detectives at 410-396-2499 if you know of any information that could help bring those involved in Marvin Pryor’s murder to justice. Anonymous tips can be called into the Metro Crime Stoppers tip-line at 1-866-7LOCK-UP.

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