City violence protested (July 30, 2003)

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Shooting death of teen brings homicide total for the year to 33.

– by Patrick Flanigan, Staff Writer –
Democrat and Chronicle.

Joy Powell leads a group of young people on a march to protest the recent upswing of violence on the streets of Rochester. She has also recruited children to perform skits and cheers with a message toward ending violence.

An argument that ended with the shooting death of a Rochester teenager Monday started with a four-letter word.


That’s what DeShannon Maurice said to his sister Dawn Nero about 11:20 p.m. Monday.

For some reason, another man in the room thought Maurice was talking to him and took offense, Nero said. The two men started arguing and went outside Maurice’s Verona Street home to fight. A few minutes later, Maurice, 19, was shot to death as his mother and sister watched.

Andrew Stevens, 33, 105 Lyell Ave. has been charged with second-degree murder.

“My brother said ‘What?’ to me in the kitchen,” Nero, 24, said Tuesday. “That’s how the whole thing escalated from nothing.”

Nero said Stevens, who lives around the corner from Verona Street, was a friend of Maurice’s mother, Patricia Nero. But Maurice and Stevens were engaged in a long-running dispute stemming from Maurice not wanting Stevens to have a key to their house.

Maurice’s death comes at a time when shootings and killings on Rochester streets are rising sharply. His marks the 33rd homicide of the year, or nine more than this time last year. A group of people gathered on Thorndale Terrace on Tuesday to consecrate in prayer the ground where another man was shot Sunday night. Their hope, among other things, is the ground will be hallowed and violence will not return to that spot.

Today at noon, members of the group plan to travel to Verona Street to utter the same prayers where Maurice was killed.

Rochester Police Chief Robert Duffy said he has launched several strategies to curb the violence and is working to develop more. He is considering a plan to cut some police services to put more officers on patrol.

Still, the violence is continuing. A rochester man was shot in the side outside a mini-mart in the city Tuesday afternoon, and a teen was shot in the back as he left the store after hearing the first shot.

The shootings happened shortly after 3 p.m., outside the ANC Mini-Mart at 535 Smith St., in northwest Rochester.

“One suspect got out of the car and fired the shots and the vehicle fled,” said Lt. James Noble of the Rochester Police Department.

Police are looking for suspects.

Kendale Harris, 18, was shot in the back and taken to Strong Memorial Hospital, Noble said. Victor Ramos, 26, of Smith Street, was shot in the side but refused treatment, Noble added.

Marion Walker, president of the Jay Orchard Streets Neighborhood Association, said the police can only do so much to end the violence. The residents of the most troubled neighborhoods must organize and report drug dealers and those who carry illegal guns. He knows his proposal sounds like a cliche, but he makes no apologies.

“An organized community can be more effective than an unorganized community,” Walker said. “As a community leader, that’s the approach I’m taking.”

Joy Powell, a community activist whose son was shot to death two years ago, said she’s also getting organized.

Powell has started “The Anti-Violence Campaign,” in which she has recruited about a dozen children, ages 6 to 13, to go to community centers and perform skits and sheers with a message toward ending violence. She’ll also invite victims of violence and reformed drug dealers to speak at the centers.

Many of the people caught up in the violence are children, she said, so she is trying to break the cycle by teaching children peaceful alternatives.

“I’m really concerned about what is happening,” Powell said. “(The violence) used to be drug-related, but now it’s ‘You looked at me, so I’m going to kill you.'”

Funeral arrangements for DeShannon Maurice are pending, Dawn Nero said. He was enrolled at the Monroe Community College to earn his general equivalency diploma.

As she talked about her bother, Dawn Nero help Maurice’s daughter, Deashanti Maurice, in her arms. The baby’s hair was braided with pink and clear beads. Little gold hoops with butterflies hung from her pierced ears.

On Sunday, DeShannon Maurice celebrated Deashanti’s first birthday.