At the corner of Collington Avenue and Monument Street in East Baltimore, friends left balloons and messages of love for Gilbert Bates Jr. who was fatally shot several weeks ago in what has become a resurgence of violence in the city this spring.
Bates, affectionately known as “Oodles,” was a fixture of the East Baltimore neighborhood. Days after his death, mourners — some of whom only knew his face — stopped to pay their respects.
“That’s how it’s been, ever since it happened,” said Gloria Peterson, who lives across the street and knew Bates his entire life.
Bates, 30, was among nine people shot the last weekend in April and is among the more than 100 people who have died in the city this year. The city reached the 100-homicide mark on May 8, the second fastest pace of killings in a decade.
There have been 107 homicides in the city as of Monday.
Peterson has lived on the block for 30 years and said she could not recall another shooting so close to home.
“It’s going to take time to get over the shock. It’s one thing when it happens somewhere else but this hit home and we were all there to see it,” she said.
On the evening of April 28, Peterson and her goddaughter were driving back from the airport after a trip to North Carolina when she saw her neighbors gathered outside on Collington Avenue. In front of her rowhome, she saw Bates — who as a boy would often come to her house while playing with her children or stop for a meal — laying on the ground after having been shot.
She and others called 911. Bates was taken to a hospital, where he died.
His mother, Iris Miller, said Bates was her only son.
“He was raised on the eastside and loved by many people. To be around him was a joy,” Miller said. “He loved making you laugh.”
His nickname, “Oodles,” came from the “Oodles of Noodles” ramen soup, which Miller said she often ate when she was pregnant with him.
Miller said her son graduated from Lake Clifton Eastern High School.
Bates had struggled in the years since, racking up drug-related charges, court records show. Most recently, he pleaded guilty last May and was sentenced to five months, records show. He was also charged, convicted and sentenced with similar offenses from 2011 and 2010, and 2007.
Recently, Bates was in a training program for a job in construction, his mother said.
He was also helping raise his four children — ages 10, 9, 8, and 2 — who don’t fully understand what happened to him, Miller said.
“I see something different in each of them and that makes him whole,” she said.
Miller said dealing with her son’s death has been painful. But she said, “this world is so corrupt. I wouldn’t bring my child back in this world.”
Across town, the family of Kynard Butler continues grieving the loss of the 26-year-old, who volunteered as a coach with the Northwest Bulldogs, a youth football team he played for as a child.
“Football was his life,” said Butler’s grandmother, Tyra Burman.
Butler, 26, was shot around 2 p.m. May 3, in the 2600 block of Quantico Avenue, just blocks east of Reisterstown Road in North Baltimore. Three others were wounded in seperate shootings the same day.
Butler’s family said he was also was very involved with raising his one-year-old son, who he affectionately called his “Dawg.” Pictures on his Instagram account showed him hugging his young son, including during a trip to Royal Farms Arena for a Monster Jam truck event in February.
Since his son’s birth and his mother died of cancer three years ago, Butler appeared to turn a corner. He had previously faced various criminal charges in the past, according to online court records. He pleaded guilty in 2012 to a drug distribution charge, and second-degree assault in 2014, and received probation in both cases.
After his mother’s death, he helped look after his younger sisters, his family said.
“He loved his sisters to death,” his aunt Cori Burman said, as she showed off another picture of him hugging a 12-year-old sister at her dance recital. Another showed Butler with his sisters during an overnight family trip to Philadelphia.
“That’s all he would do is take pictures with the kids,” she said, scrolling through his selfies with his young son and siblings.
The family said Butler attended community college but he did not finish. They said he was planning to re-enroll.
“It’s still shocking. It was out of the blue,” his aunt said.
Butler’s grandmother said he regularly made it to the family’s Sunday dinners at her home across from Mondawmin Mall. He loved fried chicken and bean soup, she said.
She said she struggles with knowing he won’t attend another another family dinner.
“He’s truly going to be missed. People don’t realize when they take somebody’s life it doesn’t affect just one person. It affects so many people,” she said.
Police have not made arrests in either case, and have not released any suspect information.
Anyone with information on either killing is asked to call homicide detectives at 410-396-2100 or Metro Crime Stoppers at 1-866-7Lockup. Those with tips can also text 443-902-4824.