As Prince George’s County mourned its 9/11 dead on the morning of Sept. 11, an 18 year-old youth lost his life while walking to school, police said. It was the second time since school started Aug. 23 that a student had been slain.

Marckel Ross, of the 400 block of Abel Avenue, in Capital Heights was headed to classes at Central High School in Capital Heights just before 7 a.m. when at least one gunman opened fire. Officers who responded to calls for shots fired in the 6100 block of Old Central Avenue found Ross suffering from a gunshot wound. According to police, he was pronounced dead at the scene.

The shooting shocked local residents because of the brazenness of the attack and left Ross’s schoolmates and loved ones devastated.

“He had a bright spirit,” Central High Principal Charoscar Coleman told reporters. “He not only was a strong student, but he also participated in our modeling team, so he was very popular amongst staff and students.”

Ross is the second Prince George’s County high school student to be a victim of a fatal shooting less than a month into the school year. On Aug. 22, Charles Flowers High School senior Amber Stanley was shot and killed by an intruder at her home as she lay in her bed. Police held a community meeting Sept. 10 seeking information about possible suspects.

Prince George’s police officers were present at the school throughout the afternoon. Grief counselors were brought in to speak with Marckel’s grieving classmates. Prince George’s County Councilwoman Karen Toles (D-Dist. 7), whose district includes Central, and Councilman Derrick L. Davis (D-Dist. 6), who is a Central graduate, visited the school.

Davis tweeted: “We pray for him.”

The school system released a statement about the shooting.

“The Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) community is saddened beyond measure by the shooting death that claimed the life of Central High School 11th-grader Marckel Ross as he walked to school this morning,” the statement read. “We extend our deepest sympathies to this young man’s family and friends, along with our fervent hope that those responsible for his death will soon be brought to justice.”

Police still have no suspect or motive in either of the shootings. They said the investigation is ongoing.

A $25,000 reward is being offered for information that leads to an arrest in the Ross shooting.

A candlelight vigil will be held for Ross at 8 p.m. on Sept. 13 at Lyndon Hill Elementary School in the 6100 block of Central Avenue.

George Barnette

Special to the AFRO