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Silvesta ‘Vess’ Daye Jr., killed in Essex Royal Farms shooting, remembered for his faith, sense of humor

Among those killed when a gunman fired on a Royal Farms convenience store Sunday in Essex was Silvesta Daye Jr., a 43-year-old remembered for his steadfast faith and sense of humor.

Friends said Daye, who went by “Vess,” had a passion for comedy, and enjoyed acting in sketches put on by his friends at a local barbershop, which they posted online under the name Redz Dabarber.

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“You would always have a good time when he was around. He would keep you laughing,” said John Cottrell, who grew up with Daye in Essex. “He could have done stand-up.”

Cottrell said he met Daye while playing football when they were teenagers, and would often see him at a local pool hall. More recently, Daye helped Cottrell with his business, making trips to the dump in his pickup truck, and doing landscaping jobs.

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Silvesta Daye Jr. (back right) attends an Eid celebration with friends in 2017. Daye, 43, was shot and killed while shopping inside a Royal Farms store in Essex on Sunday morning. Photo courtesy of Abdul Shakur
Silvesta Daye Jr. (back right) attends an Eid celebration with friends in 2017. Daye, 43, was shot and killed while shopping inside a Royal Farms store in Essex on Sunday morning. Photo courtesy of Abdul Shakur (Abdul Shakur)

“He’s like a jack of all trades,” Cottrell said.

He did those things in spite of a bad motorcycle accident in the early 2000s, which impaired his vision, Cottrell said.

“He had to wear thick glasses, but he didn’t like to wear them,” he said. “So he’d be like 10 feet from you and wouldn’t recognize you.”

Ellis Davis said he knew Daye for more than 20 years. The pair especially enjoyed going fishing together in Sparrows Point, and Davis said he’ll remember Daye for his relentless optimism.

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“I’m not an optimistic person, right? So if anything happened I’d be thinking the worst. He always made me realize that it’s not as bad as it could be,” Davis said.

Daye was also a dedicated Muslim, who was preparing for the holy month of Ramadan, said his friend Abdul Shakur.

Shakur, 36, who lives in Southeast Washington, D.C., met Daye at a masjid, or mosque, in Baltimore, and the pair became fast friends.

They got to talking while putting their shoes back on after prayer one day, and have been in touch ever since.

“I’m not even from Baltimore. I don’t have any family members in Baltimore. And all my family members in Washington, D.C., would swear by Allah that I did have family in Baltimore because of these brothers,” Shakur said.

Friday night, Shakur saw his longtime friend for the last time. Shakur picked him up from a bus stop in Baltimore, and they spent time together at his friend’s home in Charles Village, where they talked until the early hours of the morning.

Before he left, Shakur embraced his friend. Normally, he would have just said goodbye with a salaam, an Arabic phrase that means “Peace be upon you.”

“This time, I told him I loved him,” Shakur said.

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