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By the time he returned to D.C., Chicquelo had sprouted up to well over 6 feet tall.

“We always predicted he’d be the first from our first crop of kids to go somewhere,” added Roger “Coach Rog” Marshall, executive director of the Benning Terrace Community Empowerment Initiative. Coach Rog smiled as he recalled ‘Quelo’s swagger, and the way he fashioned sweatbands to emulate pro football players. “He dressed the part and had a little way about him.”

Chicquelo was discharged from Canyon State in early 2009 after a two-year stay. His mother said officials hoped for him to stay on and transition into a counselor role. Back in D.C., he lived for several months in a group home and attended classes at Alternative Solutions for Youth, a community-based program that offers special education as a means toward least-restrictive placement.

After a period of time during which he was permitted to come home on weekends, Chicquelo was allowed in August to return home for good. He was making progress, said Clinton Murchison, a mentor to Chicquelo with Youth Advocate Programs, a Pennsylvania-based company that contracts with DYRS. “He was trying to feel his way back into society,” Mr. Murchison said. “He was eager to learn, and I was encouraging him to make new friends.”

Though Chicquelo had graduated from Canyon State Academy, handled living in a group home and was by then enrolled in night classes at Ballou Stay Senior High School, he still faced a major challenge in that he was living in a neighborhood where young men deal drugs on street corners, in a maze of rear alleys and in the foyers of apartment buildings like the one where his mother lives.

If his situation wasn’t tenuous enough, Youth Advocate Programs had its contract terminated and was forced to turn its cases over to one of two agencies selected by DYRS. “I was in the process of trying to get him into an independent living program because his mother was concerned about the neighborhood,” Mr. Murchison said. “But once we turned over the contract, we had no official contact with the youth.”

From there, Chicquelo’s story is hardly unpredictable.

Court records show that shortly after Chicquelo returned home full time, he was arrested, on Aug. 18, 2009, when police stopped him on his bicycle for blocking traffic in the 1300 block of Delaware Avenue in Southwest D.C. Chicquelo fled, the records state, and police observed him trying to discard a clear plastic baggie containing 27 smaller Ziploc baggies of crack. He also had $112 cash.

He was less than two blocks from his mother’s apartment, where he was supposed to be under DYRS supervision.

A would-be wake-up call

Being charged with a drug crime at that stage might have been a wake-up call for Chicquelo, or it might have led to consequences imposed by a DYRS case manager. But according to court records, on Oct. 12, 2009, with a court date looming just four days away, Chicquelo and a 21-year-old named Curtis Waldron, armed with guns, approached a neighborhood youth in the rear alley of a unit about a block and a half from the apartment belonging to Chicquelo’s mother, LaVonne Abney. (The Times is withholding the youth’s name because police consider him a witness to a crime.)

A police affidavit states that Chicquelo, wearing a black skullcap, and Waldron both began shooting at the youth, who was hit between the neck and the shoulder, but nonetheless was able to grab a gun and fire back. His bullet struck Chicquelo in the torso. Chicquelo and Waldron then ran from the scene. Though Waldron “made good his escape,” according to the affidavit, police found Chicquelo on the ground in a rear alley less than a block away. He was pronounced dead at George Washington University Hospital.

The police affidavit states the bullet that killed Chicquelo was fired in self-defense, and the youth who fired the shot, who had charges pending against him and was under a court warning against possessing a gun, was not charged.

Waldron was later charged with felony murder for causing Chicquelo’s death. On Sept. 1, he pleaded guilty to assault with intent to kill and gun possession - and was committed “for observation and study” by the D.C. Department of Corrections under the Youth Rehabilitation Act.

Standing on a city-renovated football field that serves as the home of the Benning Terrace Soldiers, Coach Peedy, who had his own time in the streets, grimaces at the thought of visiting the crime scene. Turns out he grew up with Chicquelo’s father, Samuel Howerton, who was murdered before he reached his 18th birthday, while Chicquelo was just a toddler.

Story Continues →