Roughly Speaking Dan Rodricks: Commentary and conversation on life in Baltimore, Maryland and the USA

Message to the man who shot Bryan McKemy in Northeast Baltimore: Stop killing, stop killing our city

You killed Bryan McKemy. You didn’t even know his name. In case you have shot too many people to remember, let me refresh your memory: On Tuesday, Aug. 7, around 1 o’clock in the afternoon, you jumped a fence into a yard behind a modest white house on Woodlea Avenue in Northeast Baltimore. Someone in a Toyota Avalon is believed to have driven you there.

You and another guy pulled out guns and started shooting. You fired at the house. A neighbor said she heard at least six shots. Apparently, you were supposed to kill someone inside the house. Instead, you killed Bryan McKemy.

Bryan was 27 years old. Police say he had nothing to do with whatever insane business brought you to Woodlea Avenue. He had been hired to put siding on the house and to install trim around a glass door. Bryan’s boss had been contracted to help with the renovation of the house, to get it ready for sale. Bryan and a fellow employee were at work on a rear porch when you and the other guy started shooting.

So you killed Bryan instead of the man you were supposed to kill. And, of course, you ran away after that. Got in the car and took off. Bryan died on the porch. The three wounds suggest he was trying to protect himself from your bullets. His father, Scott McKemy, described the large “praying hands” tattoo on his son’s body to confirm his identity for the homicide detectives at the scene. A few weeks ago, the dad contacted me about the cold, senseless killing of his son because, as you well know, the police have not made an arrest. They are still looking for you and your accomplices. The dad says he was told that the shooting had something to do with a rivalry, and that police had recovered a gun related to the shooting.

I am writing this because we should all know something about the young man you killed on a summer day. There have been so many homicides in Baltimore that, as the names of victims pile up, our hope for learning even a little bit about their lives often gets buried with them.

About Bryan McKemy: He lived with his parents in Sparrows Point, where he grew up and went to high school. His dad works for a crane company. Bryan had a brother and a sister, a niece and a nephew, and a girlfriend. His mother, Angie, says he was a loving lad “with a kind soul.” His dad remembers well Bryan’s championship season as a 10-pin bowler back in middle school days. His parents have been devastated by his death.

I am writing this because it might get someone to come forward with information leading to your arrest in Bryan’s death. Bryan’s parents want justice, and Baltimore desperately needs to get guys like you off the street. We are sick of you. With your guns, you and others have killed hundreds of the sons and daughters and brothers and sisters of the people of Baltimore. And you’ve been slowly killing our city. We need you gone.

I have another reason for writing this: to put a thought in your head that you’re unlikely to get from anyone in your circle.

Stop. Put down the guns. Leave us.

At this point, more than two months since the killing, you probably think you are going to get away with murder. In Baltimore, even victims, as they lie dying, refuse to give police the names of those who shot them.

I don’t know you. I don’t know what kind of life you’ve had. I don’t know if you have any dreams about the future or just live day to day, looking over your shoulder. If you are a hitman, you’re apparently not a good one. You need to reconsider the career choice you’ve made. If you’re in a gang, I’ll bet you’ve had thoughts about getting out of it.

So why not?

People tell me that drug dealers and their hit men do not read The Baltimore Sun, so it’s pointless to address them in columns. But, over the years, mothers, aunts, sisters, uncles and friends have passed along messages published in this space. Maybe someone will hand this to you. Maybe you’ll see what you’ve done and feel, in a deep corner of your soul, some flicker of remorse, some yearning to change.

My hope is the police catch you and bring you to justice. While we’re waiting for that to happen, if it ever does, please put down the guns. Leave town if you have to. Stop. Stop killing our people. Stop killing our city.

drodricks@baltsun.com

twitter.com/DanRodricks

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