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The Washington Post

Karon Blake’s household remembers teenas ‘loving, caring, respectful’

The block letters spelling “KARON” have been longer than the casket that held his 13-year-old physique. A few of the mourners have been too small to see over the pews.

“I’m simply offended I can’t develop up with him,” one in all Karon Blake’s center faculty classmates mentioned, standing at a microphone Monday on the entrance of Israel Baptist Church in Northeast, the place a couple of hundred individuals gathered for a funeral for the slain 13-year-old. “He wasn’t like the opposite boys in my class. He was the nicest.”

Photos flashed on the wall. Karon as a toddler in a tiny blue jacket. Karon together with his siblings, carrying matching shirts that mentioned “Household Greatest Associates for Life.” Karon, a bit of older, posing in sun shades.

Beneath these photographs, there was Karon, inside a closed casket.

Karon was shot and killed Jan. 7 by a person who informed police that he noticed {the teenager} breaking into automobiles round 4 a.m. within the Brookland neighborhood in Northeast, authorities have mentioned. {The teenager}’s killing sparked anger within the metropolis over whether or not the shooter can be recognized and charged, whereas fueling a broader dialog about youths and gun violence.

Final yr, practically twice as many juveniles have been struck by gunfire as in comparison with 2021. Sixteen youths have been killed in shootings final yr, double the quantity in 2021. And homicides are up via the primary three weeks of this yr.

After violence, D.C. officials demand ‘accountability.’ Defining it is harder.

Some metropolis leaders and neighborhood advocates have invoked Karon’s dying to name for extra sources for youngsters and their households. Others have demanded that police publicly determine and cost the shooter with a criminal offense, which authorities say they gained’t do till a grand jury completes its overview.

Police have launched few particulars of the circumstances that preceded the taking pictures. They’ve mentioned there isn’t a indication Karon was armed. They described the person who shot Karon as African American, a authorized gun proprietor, and a D.C. authorities worker who has been positioned on depart.

Mayor invokes D.C.’s darkest years at meeting on anxiety over crime

Within the church on Monday, although, the main focus was on Karon and who he was throughout his 13 years.

His center faculty librarian arrived with a ebook tucked underneath his arm. It was a graphic novel about Gandhi, and inside, there was a printed an image of Karon in class, holding the ebook.

“He was a library child,” mentioned the librarian, who declined to present his full title, citing a D.C. Public Faculty coverage. “He was at all times, at all times studying.”

The librarian mentioned he introduced the ebook to present to Karon’s mother, to point out her that her 13-year-old had been studying about nonviolence.

Karon’s cousin took the microphone. He informed a narrative from a day in Rock Creek Park, when he and Karon had run throughout grassy fields to throw rocks within the water.

“I really like you Karon,” he mentioned to the casket. “We’re going to throw rocks once more at some point once I see you.”

A boy at the back of the chapel buried his head into the funeral program, his nostril between an image of Karon on the kitchen desk and one other of Karon as a child, with a pacifier in his mouth.

The pamphlet described the 13-year-old as a “candy child who grew into a really loving, caring and respectful teenager.” He favored pranking his mother, who he known as “mama,” and was identified for his sense of favor (he at all times wished to “look candy,” this system mentioned). He was near his mother, three siblings and an extended record of prolonged relations — who, one after the other, shared tales from Karon’s brief life.

At one level, mourners joined and cried out, “Justice for Karon.”

His household adopted the casket out of the chapel and towards the hearse. Nobody smiled, aside from one small boy. He performed a online game, seemingly too younger to grasp what was occurring.

Outdoors, three women held one another, sobbing. A person banged his head in opposition to a wall.

One other of Karon’s cousins, 58-year-old Sylvia Johnson, talked about how usually Karon helped out with chores round the home.

“He was a very good little one. respectful little one,” she mentioned. “He helped his mom out round the home. If one thing was damaged, he would at all times repair it.”

Johnson mentioned she had seen Karon a couple of weeks earlier than his dying. He just lately surpassed her in top. He was speculated to continue to grow taller.

Peter Hermann contributed to this report.

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