Silver Spring man's death lights way toward brighter future in Briggs Chaney
Family of homicide victim mobilizes community support for more streetlamps
A family's dark loss was transformed into a beacon of hope Saturday night in Silver Spring as a group of family and friends gathered at a bus stop in the 14000 block of Castle Boulevard where police say Julian Dionte Kelly, a 27-year-old father of two, was fatally shot by members of a local street gang this summer.
Julian's sister, Kisha Kelly, reached out to community leaders and the county's Department of Transportation to increase lighting along Castle Boulevard in the Briggs Chaney area shortly after her brother died of his injuries in a county hospital Sept. 4. Brighter lights that are replaced on a more consistent basis would likely work to deter crime in the neighborhood, preventing future attacks like the one against her brother Aug. 21, she said.
"It doesn't make sense to me to have a fantastic area back here that no one wants to visit because there's this perception that, after nightfall, it's not a safe place to be," she said. "Anything that's done in the dark, it's going to keep going on back there until it's dragged out into the light."
By Friday night, DOT inspectors, working with streetlight contractors from the Baltimore Gas & Electric Company, had agreed to improve the lights in the area, including trimming trees that have grown over the lights and replacing burned-out bulbs, said DOT spokeswoman Esther Bowring.
"They felt that the main issue was that the foliage was blocking the lighting that was there and things would be fine if the trees were trimmed," she said of the assessment. "From the department's perspective, they want to do what they can to improve the situation. ... These tragedies are things that we take very seriously."
The Kelly family also worked closely with Joy Nurmi, director of the Eastern Montgomery Regional Services Center, to reach out to apartment complexes along Castle Boulevard to inform them of the importance of adequate lighting for the entire road. Only part of the road is maintained publicly by the county, Nurmi said.
As a result of the outreach, Misti Mitchell, manager of the Ashford at Woodland complex, conducted a lighting audit at the complex. She repaired existing lights and installed replacement lights Monday.
"We've had some issues with winds and rain that have knocked down lights," she said. "Some lights were just burned out, [but] they should be working period; there's no reason they should be out."
The vigil was also an opportunity to keep the community's mind focused on finding and turning in Julian Kelly's fourth and final attacker, 18-year-old Tyshon Lateek Jones, who police believe was responsible for shooting Kelly five times with a .22-caliber pistol during the attack.
As far as police can tell, the attack took place shortly after Julian Kelly departed a bus the night of Aug. 21 and a group of four men approached him and tried to rob him of his backpack. Kelly resisted, and the men beat him, then shot him five times before fleeing the scene, police said.
Detectives believe Jones may be receiving help keeping a low profile, Kisha Kelly said Saturday.
"I hold them accountable at this point for my brother's death for helping Tyshon," she said. "Julian was my brother, and even though the sun still shines each and every day, it's not as bright; even though there's still laughter in the house, it's not as loud."
Julian's mother, Ella Kelly, was also at the vigil, speaking out about the need for the community to cooperate with the police to find Jones and resolve the crime once and for all. Julian Kelly was living with his mother at the time of his death, and she says the house now feels empty without him.
"I miss his laugh most of all," she said. "I don't even know what to say; he was 27 and he wanted everything; he wanted to do everything."
Three arrests have been made so far, including 19-year-old New Carrollton resident Shamire Moore, 23-year-old Briggs Chaney resident Charles Edward Baxter and 14-year-old Khalil Rasheed Fields, who also lives in Briggs Chaney. Police think the men are members of a local street gang called the 38 Mob.
Jones was listed with a last known address on the 100 block of Raphael Court in Martinsburg, W.Va., police said. Anyone with any information regarding either the crime or Jones is asked to call the department's Major Crimes Division at 240-773-5070.
All three of the men arrested so far have been charged with first-degree murder, armed robbery and the use of a handgun in the commission of a felony. Fields was charged as an adult, according to police. The charges outlined against Jones in the warrant for his arrest are the same as those made against the three men who have been arrested.
Anyone who wishes to remain anonymous may call Crime Solvers of Montgomery County toll free at 866-411-TIPS (8477). Crimes Solvers will pay a cash reward of up to $1,000 for information provided to them that leads to an arrest and/or indictment of the persons responsible for the crime.
Want to report downed or burnt-out street lights in your area? Here are three quick ways to contact the Department of Transportation today:
- Call the county's free "311"
information line. Additional info at: www.montgomery
- Mark the location on a map at: http://www2.montgomerycounty
- Enter the street location and pole number at: http://www2.montgomery