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Family remembers Harford man’s unsolved murder 11 years later

At Turner Station Park in Dundalk, Daphne Alston and her family members gathered Sunday to remember her son, Tariq Alston, who was killed in Harford County in 2008.

Wearing T-shirts with his image and the words “Forever in our Hearts,” the event marked the 10th time the family has hosted a cookout to remember the 22-year-old Edgewood man, who was shot and killed at a party in Joppa in 2008. The case remains unsolved.

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“You never get over it,” said Shirley Charles, Tariq’s grandmother. “There isn’t a family function where Tariq’s name doesn’t come up.”

You never get over it. There isn’t a family function where Tariq’s name doesn’t come up.


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According to Daphne, the family hosted the first cookout in 2009 to thank the community for their support. She said she couldn’t get through the initial donation of cards.

“Half of them were still wet with tears," she said.

But after a significant turnout, the family held another event the next year and soon it became an annual family gathering, albeit under unfortunate circumstances.

Tariq was shot in July 2008 while he was attending a party at the Joppa-Magnolia Fire Company’s fire hall, something his mother said was out-of-character for her typically reserved son.

Police found him wounded inside the fire hall and he was taken to Upper Chesapeake Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead less than an hour later.

And while his mother said at the time of his death her son had gotten “in with a bad crowd,” she says that she has no idea who would have a vendetta against him.

So, the cookout has become the family’s way to remember the 22-year-old, but also a way to show others that if they’re also recovering from losing a loved one to gun violence, they are not alone.

The way Daphne spoke about her son, it’s clear she believes he’s still an active part of the family, if only in spirit.

She said he’s not dead, just “away.”

“I never tell people he’s deceased,” she added.

She called her son a “Daddy’s boy” and “a free spirit” who could be hard to gauge.

“You never knew what was on his mind,” she said.

His grandmother added that Tariq, “was always somewhere staring” and was never the social butterfly of the party.

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As hot dogs and hamburgers cooked in the background, the smell wafting with the hot summer air, Tariq’s relatives spoke of the times they miss.

For Charles, she said the Mother’s Day before he was killed, her grandson bought her a card complete with music and money, the first time he’d given her such a gift on the holiday, she added.

“One week later, he asked if he could borrow (the money) back,” she said, laughing.

For his mother, she said she could still remember when the family would come home from church and he would pretend to be a preacher himself, sometimes in full formal suit and tie garb.

And while she won’t see her son again, his death was the driving force behind Alston creating “MOMS,” or the Moms and Dads of Murdered Children United, which advocates for families who have been affected by gun violence in the Baltimore area.

“Although Tariq was born and he died, sometimes people leave an impact in life,” she said.

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