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Young life taken on a troubled block in the city

The Baltimore Sun

This week, Antonio Stokes attended a vigil a block from his home for a young man gunned down at a city bus stop in a robbery attempt in Northeast Baltimore. Yesterday, Stokes was mourning the loss of his half-brother, fatally shot in an alley a half-mile from his house.

"Someone took someone very special from us - our baby brother," said Stokes, 39. "For someone to do this to him, it's just senseless." To the shooter of Collin Mazyck, Stokes added: "For your sins, you will be punished. God will punish you."

Mazyck, 24, was shot several times in the alley off the 2700 block of Tivoly Ave. - a block so accustomed to drug dealing and violence that city housing officials have called it one of the most troubled in Baltimore. Last week, the city demolished 10 vacant rowhouses and plans to take down more to revitalize the Coldstream-Homestead-Montebello neighborhood.

Though some of the most blighted houses have been cleared, violence persists. Mazyck was shot about 11 p.m. Thursday within view of the homes taken down by city wrecking crews. Police said he was trying to buy marijuana; his family said he was cutting through alleys to get to a Chinese carryout.

"It's a terrible setback and tragedy," said City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, who represents the area. "We've lost a young man who happened to be in the wrong place, at the center of an area that we're trying to revitalize. We can't bring him back. We can do a better job of saving this neighborhood from such violence."

Mark Washington, executive director of the Coldstream-Homestead-Montebello Community Development Corp., sounded a note of frustration, saying that city government and residents seem overwhelmed by the magnitude of the problems.

"If there's not a sense of urgency on the part of the city, I don't know what else we can do to create that sense of urgency," Washington said.

Mazyck was one of two men killed Thursday night in Northeast Baltimore. About 7 p.m. that evening, a man was shot and wounded in an alley in the 3500 block of Cliftmont Ave., in the Bel Air-Edison neighborhood. He died nearly two hours later at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, police said.

Police said yesterday that detectives had not been able to identify the victim, who was the fourth person killed this year in the city's Northeastern District. Through yesterday, the city has had eight homicides this year - a far slower pace of killings compared with last year, when 18 people were killed in the first 18 days of the year.

The vigil Stokes attended was for one of this year's victims, Zachariah Hallback, 18, who had been waiting at a bus stop near The Alameda and East 33rd Street. A man robbed his two friends and then shot Hallback because he did not have anything to steal, according to police and people who knew the victim.

Police said the killings of Hallback and Mazyck were not related.

Stokes said his half-brother, who did not have a car, was walking to a Chinese restaurant on Harford Road with a friend when he was shot.

Mazyck graduated from Lake Clifton High School and, until he was laid off recently, had worked as a dietary assistant for a nursing home in Baltimore County, relatives said. He lived with his mother and father and other relatives in a well-kept rowhouse on East 33rd Street, near City College.

His father, Willie Mazyck, 72, is a retired bricklayer who worked at the Bethlehem Steel plant in Sparrows Point for 45 years. Surrounded by relatives yesterday, Mazyck said, "All I could tell you is he was a fine son. We had no problem with him. I had no problem with him."

Mazyck was one of 14 siblings, and the second in the family to be killed on city streets. In 1984, relatives said, his eldest half-brother, Antwon Cooper, was killed in what they called a case of mistaken identity.

Relatives said they had not been told by police that Mazyck might have been trying to buy drugs, though detectives told them they thought Mazyck might have been robbed.

As more than 20 friends and relatives gathered at the Mazyck household yesterday, many insisted that he was just robbed for the money in his pocket.

"Ten dollars," said Wytesa Cooper, 28, a cousin. "He lost his life for $10."


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