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Activist loses son to the violence she protested

The Baltimore Sun

When his mother took to the streets to protest gang violence in their Harford County neighborhood, Samuel David Horne supported her - and feared for her safety.

"He would watch out for me, and he told his friends to watch out for me," Mildred Samy said of Horne, the youngest of her six children.

"He really was the reason I started my activism. He was my driving force."

Horne, 25, was fatally shot Saturday afternoon in the same Edgewood neighborhood where his mother once walked with a bullhorn calling for an end to violence.

"Never in my wildest dreams did I think the violence would hit home like this," Samy said.

"This is the sort of thing I was fighting against - the violence and the senseless killing."

Police obtained an arrest warrant yesterday charging Sean Nelson Smith, 28, with first-degree murder.

The suspect's last known address is in the same block on Brookside Drive in Watergate Village where Horne's body was found.

Yesterday, the Harford County Sheriff's Office released photos of Smith, who also uses the alias "Ski," and warned that he is considered armed and dangerous. Authorities said Smith might be driving a burgundy 1995 or 1998 Cadillac sedan with temporary Maryland tags.

Police described Smith, who originally is from New York City, as 5-foot-6, 167 pounds, with short black hair, brown eyes and tattoos reading, "love" and "loyalty" on his right arm.

Because of health considerations, Samy recently moved to Orlando, Fla. Her son lived in Aberdeen, but frequently visited friends in their old neighborhood.

Sheriff L. Jesse Bane and County State's Attorney Joseph I. Cassilly plan to hold a community meeting at 7 p.m. Monday at the Boys and Girls Club, 2000 Cedar Drive, Edgewood to give an update on the investigation and to address neighborhood problems.

A string of violent crimes has rattled the townhouse complex in recent years as the area has struggled with gang- and drug-related violence that spurred the sheriff's office to step up patrols and increase staffing.

Horne's killing is the second in Harford County this year; both occurred in the same neighborhood. Walter Antonio Overton, 20, was killed in the 400 block of Meadowood Drive on New Year's Day.

The unincorporated area of about 23,000 residents has been the epicenter of gang-related violence in the county, according to authorities.

"My son hated the gangs," said Samy, who traveled to Harford upon learning of her son's killing. "He would always tell me kids in gangs don't hear anything but gang stuff."

Horne grew up in the Edgewood neighborhood and attended Edgewood High School, where he played basketball, Samy said.

He held several warehouse jobs after leaving school and had several run-ins with police. He was awaiting trial on drug charges at the time of his death.

About 200 people, including Bane and Councilman Dion Guthrie, gathered at a vigil on Brookside Drive last night to remember Horne, the father of two daughters.

"It was a great comfort to me," Samy said. The mother told the group to "stop the madness, stop the killing, don't let Sam die in vain."

Services for Horne are scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Saturday at the William C. Brown Community Funeral Home, 321 S. Philadelphia Blvd. in Aberdeen.

Though the warrant was issued, police yesterday urged anyone with information about the killing to contact the Harford County Crime Solvers tip line at 888-540-TIPS.

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