Mabel Gordon pasted snapshots of her 15-year-old grandson, Maurice, on poster board, a makeshift memorial to the boy who died from a bullet as he sat on a neighbor's front porch surrounded by friends.
As she showed the pictures to grieving family members at their Reservoir Hill home yesterday afternoon, a boy walked toward the group.
The victim's sister, Jennifer Martin, 17, started to cry. The victim's mother, Jill Jenkins, yelled. And the father, Maurice Gordon-Bey Sr., dropped a phone he was holding and ran after the boy.
Gordon-Bey caught up with him in a grassy field across from the Linden Avenue house. He slapped the boy in the head. Then punched him in the face.
Jill Jenkins chased after the pair, trying to hold back Gordon-Bey. But he pushed her off and continued to hit the boy. The youth struggled and fell to the ground.
Gordon-Bey kicked him over and over again, hitting his head, as Jenkins threw her body over the boy, trying to protect him from the man's rage.
"You set him up!" Gordon-Bey yelled. "You set my son up! He was only 15!"
Another man joined the fight. Others tried to stop it. Police were called.
Then the fight broke up. The boy limped away. The family members and friends who had gathered to mourn walked back toward the house. Everyone was breathing hard. Nobody said anything.
It is unclear why Gordon-Bey reacted with such anger. Martin said the boy was one of the people sitting on the porch with her brother when he was shot early Wednesday. Police have not made an arrest in the case.
City police officers were investigating the incident. Matt Jablow, a police spokesman, said that officers would increase patrols in the Reservoir Hill neighborhood.
Moments before the fight, Gordon-Bey, who showed a Baltimore Department of Public Works badge, was talking about the senselessness of his son's killing, the third teenager killed in the city this week. "He was not involved with drugs," he said. "Random violence. It is past crazy."
He and other family members were wearing "Rest in Peace" T-shirts that Gordon-Bey had made as a tribute to his son. The boy's name, Maurice Gordon, and his nickname, "Marty," were printed on the shirt, along with a picture of him that his mother took the day before he died.
Family members talked about how Maurice loved math and had just started becoming interested in English as a ninth-grader at Paul Laurence Dunbar Senior High School. He was tall, almost 6 foot 6, and hoped to be an architect, said Jenkins, who works at Sinai Hospital.
Maurice had not gotten into trouble with police, Jenkins said. But she acknowledged that he had been suspended from school a few times. "He got picked on," she said.
His father said Maurice got into trouble only for defending himself.
His passions included basketball, video games and rapper Lil' Wayne, and Jenkins showed a picture of Maurice taken in March, when he took his infant cousin to the zoo for her birthday. In the past few weeks, he had purchased an air conditioner for the family. Before he went out Tuesday night, his mother said, he cleaned his room and took out the trash.
Police said Maurice was shot before 2 a.m. Wednesday. He was sitting on the front porch of a neighbor's house in the 2500 block of Linden Ave. when a masked gunman came up to the group and fired, police and family said. Two other friends were with him when he was shot.
Jennifer, his sister, said she had been on the porch with Maurice but had left minutes before the gunman arrived because she was cold. "I heard the gunshots," she said. She ran to him. "He was in shock that he was shot," she recalled. He was pronounced dead at Maryland Shock Trauma Center at 2:30 a.m.