Following the first Grays Ferry slaying of 2012, the community strives to make peace.
Meeka Outlaw had taught Damon Gregory Stafford in middle school at James Alcorn, 3200 Dickinson St., about 10 years ago and periodically ran into him in Grays Ferry.
“His smile,” the resident of 26th and Wharton streets said Tuesday when asked what she recalled about him, “and he was nice. He wasn’t disrespectful. He was playful. He was very playful. He was a good kid.”
Stafford was shot and killed inside a Chinese restaurant Saturday evening.
At 6:56 p.m. Saturday, the 21-year-old of the 1500 block of South Etting Street was wounded in the head and neck inside Twin Dragon, 2700 Dickinson St., Officer Christine O’Brien of the Police Public Affairs Unit said. He was transported to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania where he was pronounced dead 15 minutes later.
There were no suspects and the motive was unknown at press time.
Residents gathered Monday evening to pay tribute to Stafford and stand up to violence in Grays Ferry. Although this was the first in the community this year, in 2011, there were seven — four of which occurred in the fall over a 10-day span.
“What I try to do is when our group [Don’t Shoot … I Want a Future] is doing something in the area, I try to get all the nonprofits involved, so we can be strong together,” Ella Best, the organization’s co-founder, said.
The lifelong resident of 27th and Sears streets organized the demonstration with groups such as Unity in the Community, Tasker Elite and Residents Organized for Advocacy and Direction, which Outlaw heads.
“It seems like every summer you find out about a child — I find out about a child that went to Alcorn that got killed,” the resident of 26th and Wharton streets said of the trend that includes a student in ’11 and two in ’10.
It was difficult for Outlaw to decide what to say at Tuesday’s event as she lost her 2-year-old daughter in a car accident at Wilson Park, 2201 S. 22nd St., in ’04.
“‘What am I going to say?’” she said of her thought process, “because I know when my daughter passed, there wasn’t anything anyone could say to me. … When you lose a child, you’re losing a piece of you. This a membership I wouldn’t wish on anyone.”
About 150 residents marched from Best’s block to the site of Stafford’s memorial at 27th and Dickinson where speakers, including 2nd District Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, addressed the violence.
“He said he will come every time that we come and ask him, but it got to get better,” Best said. “The main thing is we got to do something about these guns.”
Best cited the need to take an active role in directing the youngest generation.
“The parents need to be more involved,” she said. “You need to check under beds to make sure they’re aren’t guns in the house.”
To report information, call Homicide Division at 215-686-3334 or visit www.phillypolice.com/forms.
Contact Managing Editor Amanda L. Snyder at firstname.lastname@example.org or ext. 117.
A suspect was arrested for a Grays Ferry March killing.
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