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Teen killed in Northeast Baltimore, second in as many days

Blood smeared the white door and concrete slab outside a rowhouse where a teenager was gunned down early Thursday, the second 17-year-old killed in Baltimore in as many days.

The killings of Keith Powell in Northeast Baltimore early Thursday and Adrian Gilliard in West Baltimore on Tuesday night pushed the number of youths killed this year to a dozen. The total has surpassed the count from all of last year, when 10 juveniles were killed.

Baltimore police and city leaders have spent the last several months developing laws and programs — including a more restrictive curfew — aimed at protecting African-American youths from violence.

As the nation focuses on the death of Michael Brown, the unarmed black teen killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., those efforts here took on greater intensity Thursday.

"There is an urgency for me," said Baltimore police Maj. Marc Partee. He spent Thursday afternoon in Northwest Baltimore handing kids sports equipment from a police "Fun Wagon" as part of a recreational program to foster good relationships between police and children.

"They're the future," said Partee, who is African-American. "I want to get to them early, before I'm dealing with them in an adversarial relationship."

A few miles to the south, at the National Great Blacks in Wax Museum, Baltimore police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts encouraged local teens to take pride in their lives and city as he established a newly created youth advisory council.

"Young people are losing their lives in the city of Baltimore," Batts told a group of about 30 teenagers, many of them wearing a shirts from a youth boxing program that read "Put the guns down, put up the gloves."

"How we're going to stop that in our city starts with you guys," Batts said.

Rosa Gilliard agreed with that message, even as it came too late for her grandson Adrian — or "Peanut," as his family knew him.

"The city can do more, but I feel like the kids can do more also," Gilliard said. "They can go to school, they can get an education and try to help keep these communities up.

"They're old enough. You can't put it all on the adults. You can't put it all on the city workers. Something more has to be done and these kids can be involved."

Adrian Gilliard was preparing to go back to school this fall and was considering trying out for the football team, his grandmother said. He wanted to be a rapper, but he didn't perform much, she said. He preferred to spend his spare time writing rhymes and poetry.

His family plans to meet with a funeral director early Friday to plan for his burial before attending a candlelight vigil at 6 p.m. in the 200 block of N. Bentalou St., where police found his body.

"Everyone who knew him, they loved him," Rosa Gilliard said. "He will be really truly missed. He will definitely be missed.

"I ask everybody to pray for us."

Police have no suspects in the teen's slaying.

Powell was found at 12:25 a.m. Thursday, shot multiple times in his head and body in the 3400 block of Ramona Ave. in Belair-Edison. Neighbors said they heard about five gunshots and watched as he struggled to stay alive.

Powell was not well known around the block, they said Thursday. Police said he lived in the 2600 block of Hermosa Ave., about two and a half miles north of where he was fatally shot. School officials said he attended Excel Academy at Francis M. Wood High School.

Homicide detectives canvassed the neighborhood for witnesses Thursday morning, but police said they had no suspects and were seeking the public's help.

Around the same time Powell was shot, another man was shot in the back about three miles away in the 1600 block of Northwick Road.

His injuries were not considered life-threatening. Police said they did not know if the incidents were related.

Both shootings took place in Northeast Baltimore, where City Councilman Brandon M. Scott has organized several anti-violence events.

For several months, he has been leading a "street engagement team" of men who walk down Belair-Edison neighborhood blocks talking to residents and teaching teens and young men about conflict resolution.

The small group met Thursday night at the corner of Belair Road and Erdman Avenue, with Powell's killing at the top of their agenda.

"We're going to talk about us killing ourselves and how we need to get away from that," Scott said. "That neighborhood has seen progress, and we want it to continue."

The demonstration was one of a trio of anti-violence gatherings Scott was helping to organize this week in Northeast Baltimore.

The street engagement team plans to march Friday night on the Ramona Avenue block where Powell was killed. At 3 p.m. Saturday, Scott said, he will lead a "march for the education of young boys" at the Erdman Shopping Center that will include, fathers, sons, mentors and other community leaders.

"We have to realize that young black men dying is an epidemic, and it's not just about guns and drugs and poverty anymore," he said. "I'm seeing so many cases since I've been at City Hall where [shootings] have grown out of minor disputes."

Life Riddick, a 17-year-old senior at Baltimore's Reginald F. Lewis High School, was one of several teens at the Great Blacks in Wax Museum on Thursday. Riddick said he has a tough time understanding why two teens his age are dead.

"I try not to watch the news because it makes you not want to go outside," he said. "It's crazy, the violence for such petty reasons."

Batts acknowledged that drugs and other forces can upend kids in the city. But he challenged teens to become "change agents for the city of Baltimore" — part of a "revolution."

Sitting in a museum filled with wax models of heroes such as W.E.B. Du Bois, Thurgood Marshall and Martin Luther King Jr., Batts, who is black, spoke of both the struggle for civil rights as well as the role Baltimore played repelling the British in the 1800s.

While doing so, he touched on many of the feelings the events in Ferguson had dredged up for African-Americans — though he did not refer directly to the Missouri police shooting and protests.

"We came from tough times," Batts said. "My country hasn't been kind to people like me, but I love it."

"If we want to change the future," he told teens, "you have the ability right now."

Hammond High School student Ayana Hinson, 14, said she understood. Like many of the teens at the meeting, she had spent the summer working as a tour guide at the wax museum and learning about black history.

"All these drug dealers don't understand what our ancestors went through to give us rights," she said.

Homicide detectives are asking anyone with information on the deaths of Powell or Gilliard to call 410-396-2100.

Baltimore Sun reporters Colin Campbell and Justin Fenton contributed to this article.

jgeorge@baltsun.com

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An earlier version of this story incorrectly attributed two shootings to the boundaries of City Councilman Brandon M. Scott's district. The Sun regrets the error.

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