Kendrick “Kenny” Sharpe’s Facebook page is filled with birthday messages he’ll never see. He won’t age past 48 years old on Earth, but social media posts from friends and family wish the man a heavenly celebration of year 49.
Sharpe was gunned down in Northwest Baltimore this month, one of the more than 200 people who have been killed in the city so far this year. He was a proud Baltimore School for the Arts alumnus, Army veteran and father of five.
“He wanted to do right, provide for his family and give something of himself to the community through his art," said Sean Stinnett, a friend of more than 30 years. “I don’t want anybody to classify him as a number. He is Kendrick Sharpe.”
Police responded Aug. 1 to the 5300 block of Fernpark Ave. in the Howard Park neighborhood for a report of a shooting. They found Sharpe with multiple gunshot wounds to his upper body, and he later died at Sinai Hospital. Homicide detectives are still investigating, and police could provide no update Friday.
His death came just hours before the city began its quarterly “ceasefire” weekend — a 72-hour push for no one to shoot anyone in Baltimore.
Sharpe’s death devastated his family and community. Fellow School for the Arts alumni remembered him for his talents, his style and his kindness. He was the kind of kid who worried over whether his classmates had something to eat for lunch and bus fare to get home, Stinnett recalled.
That generous spirit defined Sharpe, said his aunt, Veronica Knight. His favorite phrase was “I got your back.”
Knight says one of the last things Sharpe did before he died was buy a homeless man some clothes. “If you needed a brother, he was your brother,” she said of her nephew.
Sharpe joined the military after graduating in 1988. He served for three years and was honorably discharged, according to his funeral program. He worked until recently at Baltimore Gas and Electric.
He kept up with his art even after graduating from the close-knit magnet school. He made sculptures and drew portraits and translated his talents into detailed tattoos.
“The art his mind carried — it was phenomenal,” Stinnett said.
Sharpe also used his art to commemorate slain family members. His brother Kevin was shot and killed in Baltimore 13 years ago. The two men now lie side by side.
Gun violence has ravaged their family. Knight says Sharpe is the seventh relative she’s lost to Baltimore’s bullets. The loss seems inconceivable, and she can’t yet bring herself to talk about her nephew in the past tense.
When Knight went to collect Sharpe’s belongings from police, she found his brother’s ID card still tucked into his wallet. He kept it there for over a decade, along with his late mother’s ID.