- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Capitol Heights teenager was gunned down Tuesday as he walked to school, turning what would have been a week of back-to-school traditions into tearful mourning for a young man classmates remember as always smiling.

Marckel Norman Ross, 18, was fatally shot on the 6100 block of Old Central Avenue in Capitol Heights, just blocks from where he attended Central High School as a junior, according to the Prince George’s County Police Department.

“I just don’t get how this could happen,” said Trae Hairston, a 17-year-old senior who sat next to Mr. Ross during their time together in the Air Force Junior ROTC. “People can kill you to steal your shoes and stuff … he was at the wrong place at the wrong time.”

The calendar of events for the high school this week included underclassmen’s pictures and an invitation to sporting events, but on Tuesday students instead had to consider whether they wanted to leave school early or talk to a counselor.

“The morning was really depressing, just endless tears,” 17-year-old Jonathon Brown said, adding that he knew Mr. Ross through mutual friends.

“He was calm. He had no beef with anyone,” he said.

According to reports, Mr. Ross also had been involved in the school’s modeling program.

Central High School is a magnet school with more than 1,000 students. It offers the International Baccalaureate program, as well as a French immersion program.

A statement from Prince George’s County Schools said the entire community was “saddened beyond measure” about he student’s death.

Rene Brent said she knew Mr. Ross as a student who had “been nice to all his teachers.”

After hearing news of the shooting, the 15-year-old said, “it was quiet in all my classes.”

Police were investigating the shooting long after the yellow police tape had been removed from the two-lane road where Mr. Ross was killed.

During the day, dozens of police academy cadets swept three blocks of Old Central Avenue looking for evidence. Clad in blue uniforms and high rubber boots and crouched shoulder to shoulder, the line of officers scoured the ground and bushes alongside the sidewalk.

Police would not comment on whether Mr. Ross was alone when he was shot, nor if there was any evidence found along the street, such as bullet casings. They said the investigation is ongoing.

Officers were called to the scene at about 6:50 a.m. Tuesday for reports of an unresponsive man on the street. A police spokeswoman said Mr. Ross was pronounced dead at the scene from a gunshot wound.

Mr. Hairston said he was shocked to learn of Mr. Ross‘ fate because he walks the same route past the modest homes and small businesses that line Old Central Avenue.

“I was sitting right next to him, laughing with him,” he said. “It’s a safe walk.”

Bula Ola, an attendant at the Citgo gas station yards away from the shooting, said he sees a different stretch of road.

Sitting behind a thick pane of glass, Mr. Ola said that the area “is not safe.”

He got to work at about 7:30 a.m., and while he wasn’t there when the shooting happened, the heavy police presence wasn’t a shock.

“It’s very dangerous,” he added. “It’s a tough place. Very tough.”

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