When Alfred "Freddy" Garner Jr. was growing up, h's father taught him to be the bigger man and walk away from confrontations.
That's what relatives and police say the information technology professional from Washington was doing early Sunday when he was followed from a Northeast Baltimore bar and fatally stabbed.
"He was getting into his vehicle so he could call his friend, who was still inside," said his sister, Tina Jordan, 45.
Garner was one of two people mortally wounded in separate incidents Sunday and pronounced dead Monday, ending a stretch of relative calm in the city, in which only two homicides were recorded over a span of 18 days.
Police say Garner was leaving the Ibis Tavern in the 6000 block of Harford Road about 1:10 a.m. when a man followed and attacked him with an unknown object. Detective Nicole Monroe, a police spokeswoman, said Garner and his attacker crashed through the window of an adjacent store and continued fighting. The assailant jumped onto a motorcycle and fled the area, leaving Garner lying on the ground bleeding.
He died the next day at Johns Hopkins Bayview Hospital. Monroe said police have identified a suspect.
Garner graduated from City College high school, Baltimore Community College and the University of the District of Columbia, where, at 6 foot 9, he played basketball for the school's team. He went on to work in the information technology field, first for his alma mater and then for a private company, and helped raise his girlfriend's 9-year-old son.
His nickname was "Silk," because of his easygoing demeanor, said Jordan, who is the director of the master's of social work program at Delaware State University.
"You couldn't miss him because of his height and smile, but he was always willing to lend a helping hand," Jordan said.
Their mother died three years ago, and Garner returned home nearly every weekend to check on his father, Alfred Garner Sr., and do laundry.
"It's extremely shocking," his father said of his son's death. "All these things are always in the forefront of my mind – that it could happen. But we've never [as a family] had any problems like this at all."
"This is a tragedy for our family," Jordan added. "To succumb in the city in which you were born and raised — to get that phone call, 'Come to the hospital, he's fighting for his life' …"
The weekend's other homicide occurred Sunday night in East Baltimore's Biddle Street neighborhood, and less was known about the circumstances.
The victim, identified as Lawrence Rollings, was found in the 2500 block of E. Chase St. by officers responding to a report of gunfire. Rollings, of the 3300 block of Elmora Ave., had been shot several times in the head and body and was pronounced dead at Johns Hopkins Hospital, officials said.
Police did not have any suspects in the killing.
Baltimore Sun reporter Liz F. Kay contributed to this article.