It happened on a Sunday afternoon. I remember being in the kitchen when my cell phone rang and thinking it was a bad connection. My friend's voice was breaking up and what she said made no sense. “Taevius has been shot. I’m out of town. Can you get to the hospital?” I made her repeat it and begged for details she didn’t have. She says she told me he was dead when she called but I don't remember hearing that.
Taevius was nine years old and was a good kid living in challenging circumstances. I was friends with his grandmother, and he played with my grandson. He pretended to be his baby sitter and read books to him.
Tae was smart. I did a theater workshop for his kindergarten class and asked a question about the story we were preparing to act out. Taevius gave such an impressive answer the other students clapped and the boy sitting next to him said, “Tae is the smartest kid in our school.”
Most Sundays he was with his grandmother, but his mother had moved across town and he had a new friend in the neighborhood. "Can I go play with my friend today?"
The boys found a gun hidden in the alley and thought it was a toy. His friend aimed and pulled the trigger. Taevius was shot in the chest and died before the ambulance arrived.
A policemen who responded to the 911 call is the husband of a co-worker. He didn’t know the victim was a little boy until he arrived on the scene. He assumed it was another gang related shooting. That night he told his wife what had happened and cried.
I knew the young man suspected of hiding the gun. I did an arts residency at his elementary school, and just like Tae, he was smart and came from difficult circumstances. The minister announced his capture at the funeral and praised the Lord, Jesus, and the cops.
The young man plead guilty and is prison now. There are people who have vowed to kill him when he gets out. Maybe they will have cooled down by then.
My grandson, Nasir, is the age Taevius was when he died. Nasir has befriended his younger brother, J.T., who is eight and just this year began speaking again. The doctors couldn't find anything wrong. "He'll talk when he's ready."
Last week I was driving my grandson to his Martial Arts Class when a report about the Colorado shooting came on the radio. I changed the channel but it was too late.
“My friend Taevius was shot, remember Grandma?”
My grandson (in the yellow) Nasir with Tae's brother, J.T. They were in an Arts Camp together last week.