May 12, 2005
By STEPHANIE REITZ, Courant Staff Writer
What Robert Banks
Jr. lacked in stature, he made up for in confidence and ambition.
Banks, known to family and friends as Robbie, had dreams both
modest and grand: to become an emergency medical technician,
join the U.S. Coast Guard, charm pretty girls with his favorite
pick-up line, and someday get married and raise a son.
Banks, 20, of East Windsor, had little chance to pursue many
of those goals before he was killed Friday in Hartford while
standing in a Branford Street driveway with his cousin, Karl
Miller. Police have said he may have been killed as part of an
intimidation campaign against a Hartford family whose members
witnessed a February homicide.
Miller was treated at St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center
for a minor gunshot wound to the buttocks, and released, police
said. Banks died at the hospital.
Police were still investigating the homicide Wednesday and no
arrests had been made.
Banks and Miller were visiting a friend whose family, police
say, has been the target of an intimidation campaign by a loosely
knit group of young people. That group is said to be angry that
some members of that family have agreed to testify against two
men accused of killing 15-year-old Lorenzo Morgan Rowe of Hartford
Late Tuesday, the Branford Street family was placed in a state
protective custody program.
Banks' family said Wednesday that they have not heard specifics
from police about what occurred in the family's driveway, nor
have they pressed Karl Miller for specifics, because of his injury
and his grief.
"We felt when [police] find out something, they'll let
us know," Banks' mother, Sheila, said Wednesday. "It
doesn't make a difference for us right now because it doesn't
bring him back."
Sheila Banks, of East Windsor, and her ex-husband, Robert Banks
Sr., of East Hartford, reminisced with other family members Wednesday
about their son's life in a brief respite from funeral planning.
They told of a young man who loved boats, dreamed of traveling
the world with the Coast Guard, prided himself on keeping a neat
appearance, was an avid basketball fan, and could make easy conversation
with people of all ages.
At 5-feet-7, he also had a
penchant for flirting with tall women. "He
always used the same silly pick-up line, `Hey, haven't I seen
you on the cover of Vibe magazine?'" said his sister, Nicole
Robert Banks attended parochial school as a child, then went
through East Hartford's school system as a teen and graduated
from East Hartford High School in 2003. He played on the school's
football team as a freshman, and a school official described
him Wednesday as a respectful and friendly student.
"I know it sounds almost trite to say that he was a really
nice kid with a lot of friends, but that really is what he was," said
Dennis Lyon, an assistant principal at the school. "He was
While in school, Banks worked at the Sterling Manor health care
center in East Hartford as a dietary aide who served residents
and took trays of food to their rooms.
After graduation, he also worked at a men's clothing store in
Springfield, before being hired by Budget Car Rental near Bradley
International Airport earlier this year, family members said.
Banks planned to spend part of the summer in Alabama caring
for his paternal grandmother, then would have started EMT classes
and courses at Capital Community College in the fall.
His funeral will be Saturday in Windsor.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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