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Bicyclist, 29, stabbed to death during robbery in Waverly

A server at a restaurant in Harbor East was killed in a stabbing in Waverly.

Robert Ponsi, 29, a server at a restaurant in Harbor East, was stabbed to death on his bicycle during a robbery in Waverly Saturday night, police said.

Officers were called at 9:10 p.m. and found Ponsi stabbed multiple times at Venable Avenue and Old York Road. He was pronounced dead just before 4 a.m. at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Police have arrested two suspects in the attack: Antwan Eldridge, 17, of Ednor Gardens, and Daquan Middleton, 16, of Berea. Both are charged as adults with murder, armed robbery and assault, police said.

Homicide detectives are looking to identify other suspects. Anyone with information may call 410-396-2100 or Metro Crime Stoppers at 1-866-7LOCKUP.

Ponsi moved to Baltimore five years ago from Leesburg, Fla., where he was raised by his grandparents, his grandfather, Robert Ponsi, 72, said.

Known as "Robbie" to his family, he was the second-eldest of six children, and an athletic, strong-willed young man who had hoped to join the AmeriCorps or the Peace Corps, his grandfather said.

His older sister Dana Ponsi, 31, said he had been a leader in the Young Marines, a youth education program for children ages 8 through high school.

"Every Saturday, we'd do [Physical Training]," she said. "He was the drill sergeant."

The two marched together as part of the color guard in parades, Dana Ponsi said.

Ponsi's grandfather said he was chosen as one of nine out of 16,000 Young Marines for a two-week survival training in Canada.

"He represented the American youth, and we were very very proud of him," his grandfather said. "He was always willing to help people, a natural born leader."

Ponsi's grandfather said his athleticism was paired with a "near-genius" IQ, but he didn't show off, preferring instead to focus on others.

"He had strong feelings in terms of empathy for other people and the problems and difficulties they were having," his grandfather said.

Ponsi's grandmother, Helena Osborne-Ponsi, recalled his response to being given a pink shirt to wear when he broke his high school's dress code. An assistant principle who thought she was punishing the junior was in for a surprise: He wore the shirt to school every day, and even rocked a pink tuxedo jacket to prom.

"It backfired on her," Osborne-Ponsi said. "Shaming wasn't something Robbie thought anybody should do. He turned it into a statement."

When his grandfather had a heart attack and cancer, Ponsi took care of him, Osborne-Ponsi said.

"As he got older, he became somebody you wanted to sit down and talk with and you looked forward to him coming home," she said.

In Baltimore, Ponsi was a server at the James Joyce Pub in Harbor East, where his manager, Brian Myers, remembered him Sunday as a strong-willed, funny, "genuinely good guy."

Liz Cornish, executive director of Bikemore, a Baltimore bicycling advocacy organization, called Ponsi's death "a heartbreaking tragedy."

"BikeMore has been coordinating and working closely with the Baltimore City Police Department to improve safety for bicyclists in that neighborhood for some time, and we will continue to work with police to ensure that the people that target bicyclists are arrested," Cornish said.

Ponsi had asked to be cremated and for no funeral to be held, Osborne-Ponsi said. No memorial plans have been finalized.

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