- The Washington Times - Friday, October 31, 2003

A 15-year-old sought in the shooting death of an Anacostia High School student turned himself in to police late last night.

D.C. police said the shooter likely was aiming at someone in a white Cadillac that fled the school and was chased by police Thursday afternoon. Two persons in the car were questioned, but police later determined they had no involvement in the fatal shooting of Devin Fowlkes, 16.

Police spokesman Sgt. Joe Gentile said the shooting may have stemmed from an altercation several weeks ago. The youth in custody also is a student at Anacostia. His name was not released because of his age.

Devin, a junior at Anacostia, was standing outside the building at 16th and R streets SE after a pep rally awaiting the start of football practice when he was caught in the crossfire, police said. Devin was hit in the chest. He was rushed to Howard University Hospital, where he died.

The high school was closed yesterday, but grief counselors stood ready to help students traumatized by the death.

Little more than a mile away at Devin’s home, about 40 family members and friends gathered in the large front yard, sharing stories and photographs of Devin. They joined hands as the Rev. Willie F. Wilson, pastor of Union Temple Baptist Church, led them in prayer.

Visitors lined the walls of Devin’s upstairs bedroom with memorial messages in red ink.

“It’s wonderful that a 16-year-old child has that much impact on people,” his mother, Marita Michael, said as she surveyed the room. Minutes earlier, Mrs. Michael brought D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams upstairs to view the spontaneous tribute.

Mr. Williams spent 20 minutes offering his sympathy.

“All you can do is try to offer the condolences of the city and your personal family, your personal feelings,” Mr. Williams said after leaving the home. “It’s the hardest thing that you do as a mayor. … It’s very, very difficult because you know so much has to be done and with something like this you know that what you’re doing isn’t working. One way or another it isn’t working. It’s just very, very sad and very, very frustrating.”

Mrs. Michael described Devin as a “ladies’ man” who loved football, which he first started playing when he was 7. She said he donated equipment he outgrew to local clubs so less fortunate children would be able to play.

“He’s a good guy,” she said. “He didn’t want people to be sad.”

Willie Stewart, the longtime football coach at Anacostia, said despite Devin’s small stature he was the team’s “star running back.” He said Devin was fiercely competitive and would challenge larger linemen during practice if they missed a block.

“We heard the gunshots,” said Mr. Stewart, who was in a classroom when Devin was shot. “A couple of my players came back in the classroom and said, ‘Coach, Devin’s been shot.’”

Mr. Stewart said he rushed outside and rode in the ambulance with Devin. He said Devin never opened his eyes.

Mr. Stewart had considered canceling the team’s final two games of the season, but he said team captains told him they want to play the games and dedicate them to Devin.

Leroy McDonald, another running back, said he and Devin routinely ribbed each other as they competed for playing time.

“When it came game time, we were always on the same page,” Leroy said. “Devin was really talented, smart, funny. I’m really torn up.”

Leroy said Devin was looking forward to playing against Eastern High School in a game scheduled for yesterday but postponed.

D.C. Schools Superintendent Paul L. Vance also visited the house, after coming from the high school where he said he encouraged students “to be strong.”

Mr. Vance said the school had done everything right in terms of security and police presence.

“It’s difficult to do more relative to protection and screening. It didn’t happen in the school, it happened on the driveway,” he said. “How do you protect against that unless we come up with ingenious plans to take these guns out of young kids’ hands. What do you do?”

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