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Crime

‘He didn’t deserve that’: Family and friends celebrate life of ‘No Shoot Zones’ activist killed by Baltimore Police

Family and friends of Tyree Moorehead held a vigil Thursday night at the corner of North Fulton and Lafayette streets where Baltimore Police Officer Zachary Rutherford shot and killed Moorehead on Sunday afternoon.

Carlton Moorehead has no more sons.

His son Anthony died in a car accident while driving back to his military base. Carlton Jr. was shot and killed in 2016 at the age of 41. On Sunday, Moorehead lost his last son, Tyree, after he watched Baltimore Police Officer Zachary Rutherford fire his weapon at him 14 times, officers’ body camera footage showed.

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“You don’t know the pain in my heart,” Tyree’s father said Thursday night at a vigil celebrating Moorehead’s life, where a crowd that ranged from a dozen to nearly 50 people gathered on the corner of North Fulton and Lafayette streets in West Baltimore, where officers responded Sunday afternoon to a 911 call about a woman being attacked with a knife.

“He was a rapper. He was an activist. This man touched a lot of lives,” Carlton Moorehead said. “I wish I could lift him up and hold him right here.”

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Family and friends of Tyree Moorehead held a vigil Thursday night at the corner of North Fulton and Lafayette streets where Baltimore Police Officer Zachary Rutherford shot and killed Moorehead on Sunday afternoon.

Tyree Moorehead became an anti-violence activist after his 2012 release from prison following a 20-year sentence, spray-painting the phrase “No Shoot Zone” at more than 200 shooting and homicide sites around the city over the past decade. He was 15 when Baltimore Police arrested him in what they called a drug-related killing in the Lafayette Courts public housing complex.

Relatives, rappers, gunshot survivors and friends who had served in prison with Moorehead painted a picture of a beloved father and brother who had struggled with his mental health, but cared deeply about curbing gun deaths in Baltimore.

On a sidewalk painted with phrases like “Forever You Live Tyree,” mourners lit candles and blasted his rap songs from a car stereo. Speakers told stories about Moorehead’s penchant for standing up to bullies and railed against the police and lack of mental health resources that they said brought about his death.

Some likened Moorehead, a local rapper who went by Tyree Colion, to rapper Tupac Shakur, who was killed by gun violence, and Freddie Gray and Michael Brown, other Black men who died after encountering police.

Family and friends of Tyree Moorehead held a vigil Thursday night at the corner of North Fulton and Lafayette streets where Baltimore Police Officer Zachary Rutherford shot and killed Moorehead on Sunday afternoon.

His sister Patricia declined an interview, saying that she would have too much to say once she started. She spoke to mourners about her love for her brother and her anger about his killing. “My brother has to be the last one they do this to,” she told the crowd Thursday.

Angelia McDonald, Moorehead’s partner who would have celebrated her two-year anniversary with him Wednesday, hugged people as they arrived at the vigil. McDonald said she couldn’t bring herself to watch the body camera footage of Moorehead’s death.

In one tense moment, a grieving relative yelled that this corner marked the final “No Shoot Zone,” saying there should be no more painted now that Moorehead was gone.

Others at the vigil swore they would continue his legacy. Cynthia Peet, wearing a shirt that read “No Shoot Zones,” said Moorehead had issued her and other activists instructions on how to continue his work if he died.

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Carlton Moorehead, seated, at a vigil for his son Tyree Moorehead on Thursday night.

Some attendees said they had known Morehead only in passing, but showed up Thursday because they were outraged by his death. Many asked why officers hadn’t first used a Taser when they arrived to find Moorehead brandishing a knife at a woman. His partner and family said Moorehead’s mental health had recently declined, and that he appeared paranoid and volatile in the days and hours before his death.

“I couldn’t sleep,” said Erica Turner, after watching videos of the shooting. “Everybody in the whole world saw [the officer] shoot 13 times.”

Tina Thompson said that she thought Mayor Brandon Scott should have attended the vigil, since a Baltimore Police officer was responsible for Moorehead’s death.

“They’re supposed to be serving and protecting us — they’re killing us,” Thompson said. “I want that person to be held accountable for what he did. He wanted him to be dead.”

Lorren Hayman of StandUpBmore said that if police had been called for a similar incident in Catonsville, a mobile crisis unit would have responded and de-escalated the situation. “Why all those shots?” she said.

Hayman first met Moorehead during the 2015 protests that followed Gray’s death and said she admired his activism.

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“He had a vision and it worked,” she said. “It’s just tragic that he lost his life like that.”


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