Kimberly Height was the glue of her family. She taught her son and daughter how to manage through difficult times while growing up in East Baltimore. She was often found listening to her favorite song, “Big Poppa” by the late rapper Biggie Smalls, and laughing with friends while just looking to have a good time. Her son, Wayne Rouzer, said Height is probably “looking down smiling,” playing the rapper’s music now.
At a home-going service Tuesday, a large framed photo collage with images of Height — one of nine people killed in Baltimore during Memorial Day weekend — stood in front of at least 70 people gathered in Collington Square Park in Broadway East. Below the framed image of Height were candles spelling out the name “Kim.” The somber crowd of family and friends hugged and cried with one another as they held purple balloons.
“Remember my mother as a queen, the strongest woman that I have ever met in my life,” Rouzer said to the crowd.
“My mother loved everybody out here. She played a part in everyone’s life out here.”
Rouzer then said his last remarks and everyone released the balloons.
The 42-year-old woman was killed in an East Baltimore double shooting Sunday at Rutland Avenue and East Lafeyette Street in Broadway East. An unidentified male, 41, was also pronounced by medical personnel.
Height was one of four people killed Sunday in Baltimore. There were six shootings that day, the most violent day in the city this month.
That night, shortly after 8 o’clock, Rico Graham, 36, was found by Baltimore Police suffering from gunshot wounds in the 5200 block of Frankford Ave. Graham was pronounced dead by medical personnel, according to police.
Baltimore Police on Monday morning identified eight homicide victims between Thursday and Sunday. Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said during a news conference that afternoon that the shootings “are not random” but still referred to the violence as “incomprehensible and unconscionable."
Later that night, around 9:45, an unidentified man was found suffering from multiple gunshot wounds to his body. He was taken to an area hospital where he later died, according to police.
Baltimore’s recent spate of gun violence comes amid a stay-at-home order put in place by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan during the coronavirus pandemic. Police said last week that violence in the city “has kind of ebbed and flowed” throughout the month, with some weeks “really good” and others that “aren’t so good.”
Nonfatal shootings were down more than 15% compared with this time last year — from 257 to 213 as of Friday morning. Homicides were down 4 percent in that time. During the stay-at-home period the past two months, violent crime through May 16 dropped 10% compared with this time last year.
The homicide total increased by Monday to 120 killings this year compared with 119 this time last year, according to police data.
Height was one of four women killed this month. On May 8, the city passed more than 100 homicides as it entered Ceasefire weekend, an effort by anti-gun-violence activists looking to deter crime and heal members of the community whose loved ones have died.
Rouzer said he hopes his family and friends will not have to gather again for these types of events, moments that some residents believe have become too common in the city.
“Just know she [Height] loved all of you all,” Rouzer said.