Standing alongside his brothers in tears, Aaron Parks spoke proudly of his father, Marcus Parks Sr., who was shot and killed while on the job after 20 years as a Maryland Transit Administration bus driver.
A crowd gathered Saturday evening on the campus of Lake Clifton High School in Northeast Baltimore with balloons, candles and high school class T-shirts to honor Parks’ life. Many of them drowned in emotion as Aaron Parks spoke. Members of the crowd eventually came together cheerfully, hugging one another.
“I believe we can make change and I believe we should make change," Aaron Parks, 25, said during the vigil.
“Everybody knows my father didn’t deserve to go out like this. My father was a hardworking man. So for me, I just want to be tough and there for my brothers mentally.” Parks left three sons: Aaron, Marcus Jr. and Joshua.
The crowd of Lake Clifton grads, relatives and friends was somber — but still many stood in support of the family of brothers who lost a strong father figure.
Dr. Ben Pitts, a classmate of Marcus Parks Sr., organized the vigil. He said people acted quickly to find a way to honor the bus driver’s life after his killing Thursday. But when Pitts first found out the news, “it was devastating,” he said.
Pitts said Parks was able to accomplish things that many graduates during their time and going forward were not able to do. For instance, as students in the 1980s, they lived through the tragic death of a classmate. The school and class members stuck together through many avenues, one of them being sports.
Now, coming into his death, Parks' classmates, who call themselves the “Divine 89,” view honoring his life as a priority.
“I knew that it was a time for leadership and I knew that Marcus would have wanted us to bring people together and it was a no-brainer,” Pitts said.
“So, the graduating class of ’89, we decided to do this with the blessing of the family.”
Ronnetta Suber, 50, another classmate of Parks, said she also was his co-worker at the MTA. She said she couldn’t remember him being anything other than a “great guy,” she said.
“He loved his job and he loved his community. He has beautiful sons and he is an all-around great guy. The crowd turnout was enough to show you how well-loved he was,” Suber said.
Suber is still coming to grips with Parks' death.
“It is so sad that he was tragically murdered the way he was, just during his job that he worked through during a COVID-19 pandemic,” she added.
Parks, 51, was shot and killed after he stopped his bus around 10:30 a.m. Thursday to let off all the passengers in the 1200 block of E. Fayette Street at the edge of the Jonestown neighborhood. A couple, including a man with a gun, tried to get on the bus without paying fares, according to police.
When Parks refused to let them board, the woman allegedly grabbed Parks’ backpack and the couple ran off. Parks followed on foot, and the man opened fire on Parks, according to police.
Cameron Silcott, 24, and Nichelle Green, 27, face murder and gun charges in Parks' killing. The couple were previously wanted by four different police departments for crimes ranging from theft to assault and weapons charges.
Parks' second wife, Nicole Parks, said she was “devastated to find out about his death.” She said she spoke with him by text at 10 a.m the day he was killed but she had “no idea” that would be the last time they would speak.
“I’m devastated right now. I’m expecting to talk to him again and speak to him again, this tragedy has caused my family so much pain,” Parks, 46, said.
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The couple filed for divorce in June, according to Maryland court records.