A shrine adorned with basketballs, stuffed animals and flowers marked the spot Wednesday night where police found the body of Keyshawn Tyrell Gregory, a 13-year-old who was killed in a shooting last week.
At least 200 people gathered at a vigil to commemorate Keyshawn’s life at the intersection of North State and East Jones streets. Among them were Keyshawn’s teammates and coaches on the Swish City basketball team.
Jo Brown said he was in his car with some of Keyshawn’s teammates, carpooling home from a game, when he heard the news of his friend’s death.
“This was like a ton of bricks,” Brown said. “He really had aspirations and dreams.”
Keyshawn, called Shawn by his coaches, was one of three people in a car east of downtown on Friday when words were exchanged between one of the car’s occupants and people outside a home at 1401 Beauty Ave. and someone fired at the car, hitting Keyshawn.
Police later found the car with Keyshawn inside near the intersection of East Jones and North State streets, where he was pronounced dead.
Police have charged Malik Armein Jones, 19, with one count of murder and two counts of attempted murder. Two other teens – Jamal Christopher Howie, 19, and Jonathan Dejesus Chavez, 18 – were charged with one count each of accessory after the fact of murder for allegedly helping Jones afterward.
As dusk approached Wednesday, people raised candles and bowed their heads for a prayer. “We love you, Shawn,” echoed through the crowd.
Brown, president of the Mighty Swish City Magic Basketball Organization, said the 13-year-old already had plans to play basketball at the University of Kentucky. Most of Keyshawn’s teammates were at the gym the night he was shot – where Keyshawn would have been if he were not taking a summer break from the league. Brown said he can’t understand how someone could pull a trigger on a pre-teen.
“It’s not meant for me to understand it,” Brown said. “It just lets you know that we have so much work to do.”
This weekend’s games will be dedicated to Keyshawn, Brown added, and the team will retire Keyshawn’s jersey number, 8.
“We’ve got to stand up and take responsibility for these young kids,” said Rodney Ellis, another Swish City coach. “We’ve got to be our brother’s keeper.”
After his death, Keyshawn’s family posted pictures of him posing in a red basketball uniform. He dreamed of being a great basketball player and loved going to the park after school to work on his game, said Jennifer Zezza, assistant principal at Ligon GT Magnet Middle School, one of three middle schools Keyshawn attended last year.
“Keyshawn was a kind soul that was very respectful to adults and had a huge heart for his family and friends,” Zezza wrote to The News & Observer. “I cannot express enough how much he has impacted each and every one of our lives.”
Keyshawn’s public school record in Wake County indicates he was enrolled at Salem Elementary for fourth and fifth grades, said schools spokeswoman Lisa Luten. He began sixth grade at Ligon, then moved to Salem Middle School in December and remained there until March, when he enrolled at Martin Middle School.
There will be a visitation service for Keyshawn from 2 p.m. until 8 p.m. Sunday at the Carlton Grey Funeral Home, 2810 Kidd Road in Raleigh. The funeral will be held Monday at 1 p.m., also at the funeral home.