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Father mourns teen killed in South Baltimore

"He's my son. Sweet young man. 14-year-old boy," father of slain Baltimore teen said. "He didn't deserve it."

Tywaun Short's middle name was chosen while he was being delivered.

His father, Ryan Short, said he was watching an NBA basketball game as he waited in the delivery room. On TV was Ryan's favorite player, Rasheed Wallace, known in the league for a personality as big as his tall frame.

Tywaun's first name had already been picked out. It included parts of his mother and father's first names. But they didn't have a middle name. Right there, Ryan Short said, he decided it would be Rasheed.

And Tywaun grew up loving basketball with an outsized personality to match, his father said. Wednesday evening, the 14-year-old was fatally shot in the South Baltimore neighborhood of Brooklyn. Another man also was shot and wounded in the incident.

"He's my son. Sweet young man. Fourteen-year-old boy," Ryan Short said. "He didn't deserve it. It's hard for me to just talk. He was the sweetest child, just the sweetest child. He'd do anything you'd ask him to do, respectful. He was amazing to me. He was an amazing child."

In the housing complex of rectangular, two-story apartments in the 4100 block of Mariban Court where the Shorts lived, Baltimore police cars weaved in and out of the narrow streets Thursday. A police lieutenant from the Southern District monitored the complex from a parked black SUV.

In the block where Tywaun had lived, a memorial had sprung up with silver balloons and teddy bears, including one wearing headphones. It was for Victor "Vito" Gwaltney, a 20-year-old who was fatally shot at the site on March 28 in a double shooting that also wounded a 26-year-old. Police have made an arrest in that shooting.

Tywaun and a 28-year-old man were shot Wednesday in the 4100 block of Audrey Ave., about a half-mile from where Gwaltney was killed. The condition of the wounded victim was not known Thursday.

Neighbors said gunfire has been frequent.

Ryan Short said there are too many "in these streets who need to man up and stop shooting their brothers and sisters. I don't get it. Why him? Why was he killed? Who does that? What does that make you? That don't make you no man. You killed a 14-year-old. That don't make you tougher. That's weak."

Police have no suspects in Wednesday's shooting. A drive-by shooting was reported just over the Anne Arundel County line on Tuesday. Anne Arundel County police spokesman Lt. T.J. Smith said detectives do not think it's related to the shootings in Brooklyn.

Police do not know if Tywaun Short was targeted or struck by errant gunfire.

"It just doesn't make sense," said a boy who lived in Tywaun's complex and described himself as a close friend. He declined to provide his name because a suspect in the shooting has not been arrested. "It's just crazy he's gone like this."

He said Tywaun was a fun-loving prankster who loved basketball and didn't seek out trouble.

"My little brother," he said, "always put a smile on somebody's face. He was annoying, but you've got to love him. Like family to me."

Ryan Short said his son aspired to be a rapper, a goal he tried to hide from his father. He almost always kept to the curfew his family set and did whatever he was asked to do, the father said. He was good at math, loved putting pictures up on Facebook and Instagram and was "just the average kid" who was tight with his siblings.

Then Ryan Short thought about it and contradicted himself.

"He was Tywaun. He was like nobody else. He was Tywaun."

jgeorge@baltsun.com

Twitter.com/justingeorge

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