Fight between Columbia teens leaves one dead

Howard County police have charged a Columbia teenager in the Wednesday, July 27, stabbing death of a 17-year-old Long Reach teen.

Police said rising Long Reach High School junior Xavier Trevon Bates, 18, of 9089 Lambskin Lane in Columbia, stabbed Christian Lendell Hall at his Sierra Woods apartment complex in the 8700 block of Airybrink Lane just before 10 p.m.

According to charging documents, Bates and Hall were involved in a fight near the Long Reach Village Center earlier that day. Police spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn said the stabbing was not drug- or gang-related, but resulted from a "personal dispute."

Police said Bates came to Hall's home to fight him again, forced his way into Hall's apartment on the third floor of the brick, garden-style apartment, stabbed him several times and fled on his bicycle. Witnesses at the scene called police.

Bates returned to his home and was driven to Howard County General Hospital by a family member because of a hand injury. He was arrested at the hospital and is being held at the Howard County Detention Center awaiting a bond hearing.

At the hospital, Bates "admitted to bringing a knife to the Airybrink address to fight Hall, yelling 'I am going to kill you' several times as he chased Hall and to stabbing Hall in the side of the chest," according to charging documents.

Police do not believe anyone else was involved in Hall's murder, Llewellyn said.

Bates is charged with first- and second-degree murder and first- and second-degree assault.

'Boyhood skirmish that went bad'

Columbia resident Gary Wilson, Hall's mentor for four years at the mentoring program at St. John's Baptist Church in Columbia, said Hall was a "very active kid." Hall had participated in the program since he was 13, eventually becoming a student leader.

"I think it was a boyhood skirmish that went bad, I don't think he was on a bad path," Wilson said of Hall's sudden death. "He wasn't a bully or anything. … He was a work in progress but he was making a lot of strides.

"He was very smart, very bright, very inquisitive," Wilson recalled. "He was always eager to learn, very opinionated."

Wilson said he was "shocked" when he learned of Hall's murder.

"He had such a bright future, he was just a really bright kid," Wilson said.

According to Carolyn W. Gayle, coordinator of the church mentoring program, the program is aimed at providing youngsters with a positive role model and involve them in various activities that "help steer them away from violence.

"You can't predict violence. … No one can ever know what may happen in one's life," Gayle said. "It's sad for us that we lost him."

In 2008, after Barack Obama was elected president, the program held a contest in which students wrote acceptance speeches acting as Obama. Hall won first place.

"He was a creative thinker, a critical thinker," Gayle said.

Hall did not attend high school in Howard County at the time of his death, according to Howard County School System spokeswoman Patti Caplan. Hall formerly attended Reservoir High School in Fulton, but in March 2009 he transferred to New Visions Academy in Baltimore County, a school for boys with behavioral problems.

'You never know'

Residents interviewed outside the Sierra Wood complex the day after the killing agreed that the neighborhood is not safe.

DaMarkus Powell said that although the area has been "cleaned up" over the years, he still doesn't feel safe outside at night.

He said that while the stabbing was between acquaintances, it made him uneasy.

"You never know what could happen," he said.

Another resident, Denny Gonzales, said he never lets his children play outside unattended because he doesn't feel the apartments are safe.

But Lorraine Powell said that a murder between acquaintances can happen anywhere.

"That's happening everywhere now," she said. "Me and my kids stay in the house."

Staff writer Sara Toth contributed to this report.

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