Police, MTA footage show Dundalk shooting; officers cleared

Former high school basketball state champ, young father shot fatally in Northeast Baltimore

The Baltimore Sun
"If you're a black young male growing up in Baltimore city, your clock is ticking."

Latisha Garner and her fiance, Travonn Barnett, hoped to leave Baltimore one day, to escape the violence that plagued the neighborhoods where they grew up.

Barnett had suggested moving south, Garner said. There were better opportunities there, he'd told her, and it was a safer place to raise their 2-year-old daughter and their second child on the way.

Once they could afford to move, they planned to marry, said Garner, 21.

Now they never will.

Barnett, a former member of Patterson High School's champion basketball team, was shot fatally early Tuesday morning. He was among at least four people killed in the Coldstream-Homestead-Montebello neighborhood this year, according to police data.

Officers responded to Gorsuch and Kirk avenues around 3:20 a.m., where they found Barnett, 23, sitting on steps with a wound to his chest, police said.

Barnett was taken to Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore police spokesman Detective Donny Moses said. Barnett was pronounced dead nine hours later.

Detectives are looking for three suspects seen wearing ski masks, Moses said.

Barnett's family was shocked and devastated by the news.

"He never hurt nobody," Garner said. "He really loved his family — me and his daughter. That's the only thing he cared about."

"He was just a young man that wanted to be somebody," said his mother, Tanya Davis, 41.

"He didn't start no trouble," Davis said. "He was doing the right thing."

Barnett enrolled at Community College of Baltimore County's Essex branch after graduating from Patterson in 2012, Davis said. But he had to leave after a few months, she said, because he could not afford the tuition.

He then worked as a security guard for various businesses in the city, Davis said, including a private security company in Harbor East.

Barnett aspired to be a private investigator, Garner said. He had recently received a license and a handgun permit for the job, she said.

The couple met at Patterson, Garner said.

Barnett was a forward on the school's varsity basketball team for two years, including the 2011-2012 season in which the team won the state championship.

"He was a very good role player for us," said Harry Martin, who still coaches the team.

"He's a kid who came every day — hard worker, very respectful," Martin said. Barnett was a "yes-sir-no-sir type of kid," Martin said.

Barnett also excelled in math and English, Martin said.

Shakir Brown, 22, a teammate of Barnett's, said Barnett was well liked by his peers.

"He always made everybody laugh," said Brown, now a student at James Madison University. "He was a character — really funny."

Dereck Oliver, another teammate who now attends Augusta University, said Barnett was "like a brother" to him.

"He always called me when I was home, making sure I was staying out of the streets," Oliver said.

Barnett was facing a criminal charge at the time of his death for possession of a narcotic with intent to distribute, court records show.

Barnett was arrested after trying to give drugs to an undercover officer, according to his lawyer, Ivan Bates. Barnett told Bates he had done so at the request of a friend.

Barnett's record was otherwise clean, Bates noted.

"There are some kids that succumb to the street life," Bates said. "That wasn't him."

Before leaving high school, Barnett discussed with his coach the possibility of joining the military, Martin said. Barnett never did enlist, despite Martin's encouragement. It would be a surefire way to get out of Baltimore, Martin said he had told him.

"A lot of kids, we try to preach to them to get out of Baltimore City," Martin said.

"With the violence that goes on, if you're a black young male growing up in Baltimore City, your clock is ticking."

jcoburn@baltsun.com

twitter.com/jesse_coburn

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