Tyree Wright did a wonderful impression of Steve Urkel, the same goofy expression, a nearly identical laugh and practically all of the same mannerisms as the television character.
But Tyree's humor was only a front. He had a serious side about him. He was a leader and an above-average student at Patterson High School, where he was to be a junior in the fall. He starred on the school's indoor track team, and teachers liked him because of his doggedness with his studies.
Tyree wanted to go to college and perhaps later become a California police officer. Why California? No one knows since he had never been there. But he was a 16-year-old and likely to change his mind, his mother said.
On Wednesday, Tyree was fatally shot as he sat on the front steps of his home with family members in the 1700 block of E. Federal St. about 10: 30 p.m. A 21-year-old man was arrested Friday and charged with first-degree murder and a handgun violation.
Police know of no motive for the shooting. Friends, family and teachers said Tyree did not hang around with gangs or the wrong crowd. He didn't use drugs, and didn't usually go past his porch at night.
"He was my little buddy, my shadow. He was always there for me," said his mother, Earline P. Uzzell of Baltimore. "If he didn't go with me, he usually wouldn't go anywhere."
In many ways, Tyree was a mainstay to his family and classmates. He was 6-foot-2, and his personality easily attracted people. His humor made them laugh, and his character kept them as friends.
"He sure liked to entertain," said his aunt, Michelle Boyer of Baltimore. "He liked to see people laugh and happy."
Darnell Wilson, a friend who lived near Tyree's Federal Street home, said his buddy always had something good and interesting to say.
"He wasn't always totally serious or not serious," he said. "He could talk to anybody of anything they wanted to talk about."
A native of Baltimore, Tyree was a regular churchgoer and was described by Mr. Wilson as "somewhat of a homebody." In addition to excelling in track at Patterson High, he played part of a season on the junior varsity football team.
He participated on the Patterson High School Improvement Team, which worked to improve conditions at school, and was part of a student contingent that worked as companions at the Special Olympics.
"He spent a lot of time here after school," said Dorothy Steinacker, an assistant principal at Patterson High. "He was not one to run right out of the door. He was a wonderful child."
"When we heard what happened, we were all shocked to the depths of our hearts. He was the kind of child who kept everyone smiling."
Ms. Uzzell and her four surviving children have moved to another East Baltimore home since the shooting. There are too many bad memories and an uneasy feeling in the old neighborhood, she said.
"Tyree was always the peacemaker. He didn't want no trouble from anyone," Ms. Uzzell said. "He was my partner. I'd always say 'Who loves you' and he'd say 'God and you.'"
Services were held yesterday .
In addition to his mother, Tyree is survived by his father, Thomas Wright; two brothers, LeVar Bryan and Emanuel Johnson; and two sisters, Cynqutte Bryan and Latarsha Uzzell. All are of Baltimore.
Pub Date: 6/30/98