Hundreds Mourn Eighth-Grader Who Was Shot On His Porch
June 4, 2006
By HILARY WALDMAN, Courant Staff Writer
Throngs of young teenagers, some in sweat shirts, more in their Sunday best, were asked not to leave their grief at the door of Victory Cathedral, where they gathered Saturday to mourn their friend Kerry B. Foster Jr.
Kerry, 15, was shot and killed last Sunday on the porch of his parents' Hartford home.
He is believed to have been an innocent bystander in a spate of youth violence that has shaken several city neighborhoods since May 24. Sixteen people have been shot and, by late Saturday, no arrests had been made.
On Saturday, about 400 mourners packed the pews and aisles of the lavender-colored sanctuary at Victory Cathedral on Bellevue Street in Hartford, while several dozen latecomers waited outside in the rain.
Inside, tears mixed with clapping and cheering as two family friends sang rousing gospel hymns.
Sheldon Neal, an assistant principal at Lewis Fox Middle School, where Kerry would have completed eighth grade this month, spoke to the children.
Neal said Kerry was a hero on the porch last Sunday night, trying to push his friend out of the line of fire. The friend, Cinque Sutherland, 14, survived the shooting and remains in the hospital with serious injuries.
"He was not a gun-toting, [drug]-smoking, gang-banging gang member," Neal said of Kerry, the clean-cut boy with perfect attendance and the gift of gab.
"Kerry touched us all during his season down here," Neal added about the boy who was passionate on the football field and basketball court. "We have an opportunity to heal this community as Kerry would have wanted us to."
Then Neal looked into the many familiar faces fixed on his every word. And he made an appeal.
"Students, you and I have a responsibility to find that hero in all of us and find the power as a community to ensure that this never, ever happens again in this city."
Next, Hartford Fire Chief Charles A. Teale Sr. stepped forward. He looked down at Kerry's parents, Kerry Foster Sr. and Janice Foster in the front row, surrounded by a large extended family. Kerry Foster Sr. is a member of the Hartford Fire Department.
Teale recalled how much he looked up to Hartford firefighters when he was a child growing up in Hartford's tough North End. He promised that in Kerry's memory he would bring the firefighters back into the community to serve as role models.
"We have a lot of opportunities to interact with the community," Teale said. "We want to learn why kids are so prone to violence and we will teach them to abstain from violence - something very positive to always remember Kerry Foster Jr."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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