By Micha Green, AFRO Washington, D.C. Editor, [email protected]
The Rev. Sheldon “Sarge” Stoudemire, 57, a well-respected minister of Braddock, Pa., was doing what he loved- serving others- when he was fatally shot in the wee hours of Sat., July 27.
Stoudemire worked at Northside Common Ministries men’s shelter on the North Side of Pittsburgh’s California-Kirkbride neighborhood.
The 57-year-old was simply doing his job when he had to turn away an allegedly intoxicated man at 3:20 a.m., which is past the time the shelter allows people to check in.
The man, who had been known for years as someone who worked to help at-risk people, was allegedly fatally shot in the chest by 19-year-old Gerald Adams, who was charged with homicide along with additional gun and drug offenses.
Stoudemire died from his injuries at Allegheny General Hospital around 4:30 a.m.
According to the Post-Gazette, police saw Adams in the middle of the street prior to getting a call about shots fired.
After learning of the shooting, officers went back to speak with Adams, who discarded two guns while fleeing from them.
Despite a foot chase, police caught Adams, and took him in for questioning. In addition to the possession of guns, police also found a small amount of crack-cocaine and marijuana on the 19-year-old.
Adams reportedly told police he was walking to his girlfriend’s house and had a “verbal altercation” at the shelter. He also told the police he had a gun on him at the time of the incident.
Video surveillance shows a man, dressed in the same clothes as Adams, attempt to go to the shelter, speak to Stoudemire through closed doors, pull a Black pistol out, fire one shot, and then casually walk away.
A witness who spoke to the Post-Gazette on the condition of anonymity said Stoudemire could be heard saying, “you had too much to drink,” before a shot was fired.
Not only is Stoudemire’s loss a blow to the men of Northside Common Ministries, but the community at large.
Stoudemire ran a mayoral race, which he lost earlier this year to Chardaé Jones.
He’s also beloved in the community for the boxing gym he operated from 2008-2010 in Clairton, Pa., which became a safe space for those seeking shelter from the streets.
“We had a guy who ran into the gym, huffing and puffing, with a nine-millimeter [handgun] tucked into his pants,” Stoudemire told the Post-Gazette in 2012. The minister said the boy claimed people were trying to jump him and that people were calling him a “snitch.”
According to the Post-Gazette Stoudemire prayed with him and encouraged him to dispose of the gun, which eventually led to the young man hanging around the gym and ultimately moving out of town.
In addition to the community’s loss, the AFRO mourns Stoudemire’s death as he was also the brother of AFRO Executive Director Lenora Howze.
“While this is a devastating tragedy, our family is comforted in knowing that Sheldon’s life had a significant impact on the city of Pittsburgh and on people all over the nation,” Howze told the AFRO. “His ministry and legacy will live on.”
“We are grateful for all the thoughts and prayers that have been sent our way,” Howze added.
As the Reverend was called home doing God’s work, Howze reflected on her brother’s life work, mission and ministerial nature.
“Sheldon dedicated his life to reaching inner city Black youths. While his life was taken by the very type of person he was trying to reach, we are confident that had Sheldon survived this shooting, the first thing he would have done would be to minister to the shooter.”