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Crime

‘Jeremiah had a big heart’: Slain Mervo High football player buried Saturday

It wasn’t a mourning spirit but rather a celebratory one at the funeral of a Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School football player who was shot and killed on campus earlier this month.

More than 500 people came Saturday morning to Empowerment Temple in Northwest Baltimore to remember 17-year-old Jeremiah Robert Brogden or “Jerm.”

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The Mervo High junior died Sept. 2, after he was shot on campus by a student from another school, police said.

Visitors lined up around 10 a.m. to see Brogden in his white, open casket. He wore his Mervo #30 football jersey and held a football in his right hand. A bouquet of flowers resembling Mervo’s school colors, royal blue and gold, adorned the bottom half of his casket.

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Some people also dressed in school colors or wore a Mervo football jersey. People were still filing in an hour later for service and some stopped to hug and cry with Brogden’s mother, Doretha.

Service started somberly but quickly turned into clapping and cheering as people rose to their feet as Pastor Tyrone Nance Jr. spoke.

“I told you we were coming here to celebrate number 30 so we are going to celebrate him like he just scored the touchdown!” Nance shouted into the microphone as if he was announcing a major moment at a game. “We are going to celebrate him like he just got the game-winning interception! We are going to celebrate him as if he just walked across the stage! We are going to celebrate him! We did not come here to mourn him! We came to celebrate Jeremiah Brogden!”

People prayed and sang songs during service. Brogden’s teachers and Mayor Brandon Scott, an alumnus of Mervo High, gave speeches on Brogden’s life.

“Jerm was a young man, working hard to be the best version of himself,” said Scott. “He was not perfect. None of us are. He knew he had only begun to scratch the surface of his potential and was dedicated to untapping everything in him.”

Brogden was born Aug. 7, 2005 in Baltimore. He had a unique eye for style, kept up with the latest trends, was entertaining and often did funny impersonations of others, according to his obituary.

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“Jerm could make anyone laugh, no matter what they may have been going through,” the obit said. “In addition to his love of laughter, Jerm also loved to eat Alfredo and hot wings. If he could eat it everyday, he would have.”

He started playing football at age eight and found his passion. Brogden was a talented running back at Mervo, where he helped the team win the Baltimore Junior Varsity Championship in 2021 against Dunbar High School.

“On the football field is where he felt most powerful. He could move like a locomotive, which earned him the nickname, ‘Night Train,’” the obit said. “Jeremiah would carry the team down the field. When the team needed to gain yards, Jeremiah would always get the ball and everything in him would become alive.”

Less than an hour before a scheduled home game on Sept. 2, Brogden was shot around dismissal time. Baltimore Police said a 17-year-old suspect approached Brogden in a parking lot behind the school, started arguing with him and fired multiple rounds.

School police performed CPR on Brogden, who was taken to Johns Hopkins Hospital and pronounced dead soon afterward. Officials have not released the suspect’s name, who is facing a first-degree murder charge, nor provided information on a motive.

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The shooting marked a tragic end to the first week of school for Baltimore students and reverberated into the second week. On Labor Day, Mervo announced a healing and recovery effort for that week, offering counseling and a gradual return to classes. Some city and school district officials called for more conflict resolution and emotional health in classrooms.

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“The gravity of Jeremiah’s death weighs heavy on me, because of all the promises that he’s made over the course of the years while he was at Baltimore Collegiate,” said Robert Allen, an educator who knew Brogden from the charter school. “It was a father-son relationship. He confided in me when he felt teachers were not giving him a fair opportunity to complete his work.”

Allen was dean of culture at Baltimore Collegiate School for Boys, a charter school for grades four through eight, when Brogden attended. He said it felt like a roller coaster ride when he found out Brogden died.

“My heart dropped in my stomach,” Allen said, adding that he “lost it” when speaking with Brogden’s mother. “The first thing she said to me, and this was what broke me down. She said to me, ‘You did it, you got him this far.”

Brogden’s mother sobbed over her son’s body, surrounded by family and friends before Brogden’s casket closed before service. He was later buried at King Memorial Park.

“Jeremiah had a big heart and he loved and supported the people that believed in him,” Allen said.

Brogden is survived by his parents Doretha and Ross Brogden; his son Jeremiah Javonni Christian Brogden; siblings Destiny, Isaiah, Nehemiah and his other brothers and sisters; and many relatives and friends.


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