The killing of her 15-year-old son the day before still hadn't sunk in for Sandra Hyde by Monday afternoon.
"I still haven't seen him. Right now, to me, he isn't dead because I haven't seen him," Hyde said as she sat in her living room, clutching a photograph of her son in his basketball uniform.
Jakeem Tully became Hartford's 17th homicide victim of the year, the second of three to occur over the weekend, dying en route to St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center where he was taken for treatment of gunshot wounds.
Jakeem, a home-schooled student who was excited about turning 16 next month and getting his driver's license, was found shot near 485 Albany Ave. shortly after 2 a.m. Sunday, a few blocks from his Green Street home. He had dropped off his girlfriend and was returning home.
"He was leaving his girlfriend's house. He was at the wrong place at the wrong time. He shouldn't have been at the girl's house," Hyde said, adding that she spoke to Jakeem on his cellphone at about 1:30 a.m. when she realized he wasn't home.
"I asked him why he wasn't inside and he said, 'I'm on my way, Mom,' " Hyde recalled.
The next call she got, at about 2:30 a.m., she said, was from a stranger who told Hyde he was driving Jakeem to St. Francis - the same hospital where he was born.
Jakeem loved to play football and basketball and planned to become a computer technician, his mother said. He was pronounced dead before she got to the hospital and she was unable to see her son before his body was sent to the chief state medical examiner's office for an autopsy.
He had died of gunshot wounds to the chest and arm, a spokesman for the office said.
Hartford police are investigating Jakeem's shooting and the weekend deaths of two other men.
According to police, Johan Rosa, 28, of New Britain, was shot Saturday at about 4:45 a.m. at 195 Affleck St. and died at Hartford Hospital about 45 minutes later. Police believe they discovered the city's 18th homicide victim, a still unidentified male, at around 12:30 p.m. Sunday when they responded to a report of a deceased person on the third floor of 67 Mansfield St.
Hartford Mayor Eddie A. Perez said Monday that the three weekend homicides bring the total this year to the same number as last year at this time. "We've had peaks in a week before, but one homicide on any day concerns me," Perez said, noting that the city and department are aware of small, loosely organized street crews that have been operating in the area where Jakeem was found.
Hartford Police Chief Daryl K. Roberts said in a release Monday that the department "will not rest until we get the guns out of the hands of these violent and reckless individuals who resort to gun violence to resolve disputes."
For Pamela Joiner, whose son Jumar was killed in May 2007, it isn't enough.
"We need help. We're living in a war zone," Joiner said Monday after offering her condolences to Hyde. Police have obtained a warrant, but have not made an arrest in connection with her son's death, Joiner said.
The Rev. Henry Brown of Mothers United Against Violence said that pastors in the city should urge their congregations to take part in vigils to protest the killings of Hartford's residents and wants the governor to increase state police presence. Since June, 12 uniformed state troopers and two state police supervisors have augmented the city's police forces.
"Why not send a hundred?" said Brown, who will be holding a vigil today beginning at 6 p.m. at 485 Albany Ave. "They need to flood the city."
Hyde said she plans to attend the vigil. But after that she intends to bury her eldest son, who had just met his month-old half-brother last week for the first time, and leave Hartford for good.
"I don't want to live with the memories," she said.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun