Hundreds of mourners, many of them wearing T-shirts, buttons and headbands bearing the words “RIP Spike” filed by the open casket at Ebenezer AME Church in Fort Washington to say goodbye to 16-year-old Marcus Antonio Jones who was fatally shot Jan. 20 after a birthday party.

The friends were there and so were his parents, sitting on the second row—his mother Monica Jones, in traditional black, softly sobbing; his father, Dwayne Young, putting an arm around her, attempting to offer comfort in a situation where there would be none.

The Prince George’s Police Department (PGPD) said Jones, a sophomore at Friendly High School, was standing in a group outside the party when three men approached the group and Jones was shot. He was taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Eight days later, as Marcus was eulogized, police kept a visible vigil in the parking lot of the church. According to detectives, Marcus’ killing resulted from a conflict between neighborhood crews from three areas in the county.

Akil Ings, 17, of Suitland, and Kquantae Fisher, 19, of Fort Washington have been charged with first and second-degree murder in the slaying.

“We are against senseless acts of violence. Some things have to stop and some things have to get better,” said the Rev. Tony Lee, senior pastor of the Community of Hope church at Iverson Mall in Temple Hills.

Lee added a message for those who might attempt to avenge Marcus’ death saying, “Retaliation is not what is needed in this moment.”

On January 19, a student was having a birthday party in the 7700 block of Webster Lane. According to a parent whose child attended the party, at approximately 11 p.m. the party was getting overcrowded and the birthday girl’s mother started calling parents to suggest they pick up their children. Just before midnight gunfire was heard, and the parents inside the house began pushing children into a back room to keep them safe.

Meanwhile outside, according to police, Marcus was standing with a group that was approached by Ings and Fisher, members of a rival crew. Ings shot Jones and fled the area with Fisher and another suspect who has yet to be identified, police said. Officers were called to the scene and found Jones suffering from a gunshot wound that would prove to be fatal.

After Marcus’ killing tensions ran high among youth in the Fort Washington area. When students returned to Friendly on Jan. 22 several fights erupted, some involving outsiders who weren’t students at the school. Police were called to quell the violence. Three people, two adults and one juvenile, were charged with assault.

The PGPD held a community meeting the next day to talk with parents and students about the fights, gang activity and to share information on the shooting. Friendly High School Principal Raynah Adams IV, along with the police and school security officials, tried to allay parents’ fears that their children were unsafe in school. Police also asked that anyone with information on the shooting come forward to help bring Marcus’ killer to justice.

The next day the police announced that Ings and Fisher were arrested for the murder. Both were former students at Crossland High School, less than one mile from the shooting location and which has a history of strong rivalry with Friendly.
Ings is in custody in Washington, D.C. awaiting extradition to Prince George’s and Fisher is at the Department of Corrections on no bond status.

The altar at Ebenezer featured a portrait-sized photo of a smiling Jones with bouquets of white and blue flowers and stuffed animals lovingly placed underneath. He was remembered as someone who enjoyed life, his mother’s cooking and making his loved ones laugh.

“He loved it so much that he took pictures of it and put it up on Facebook,” said Yvonne Henderson, who spoke at the service. The audience responded with a chuckle.

Marcus also was remembered as an inspiration as one preacher tried to bring hope and togetherness to the community in a time of grief and conflict.

“Hold on to how he would walk into a room and bring joy and lightness to the midst of a dark situation,” said Ebenezer AME Youth Minister Akil Dickens who performed the eulogy. “Hold on to everything that Marcus has given us to hold onto. And while you hold onto the memories, we have to hold on to each other.”

Teria Rogers

Special to the AFRO