Kansas City police say Steven Wright Jr. was the worst gangster in recent memory. This summer, his bloody legacy is flowing in the streets.

When Moody Ruled 

Kansas City police say Steven Wright Jr. was the worst gangster in recent memory. This summer, his bloody legacy is flowing in the streets.

Second of a two-part series: Last week, Pitch writer Kendrick Blackwood described Anthony Watkins' involvement with 51st Street gangsters as he transformed himself into the rapper known as Fat Tone. Drawn into a rivalry with Bay Area MCs, Fat Tone denied involvement in the November killing of a California rapper, Andre "Mac Dre" Hicks, and was himself shot to death in Las Vegas in May. Both crimes remain unsolved.

Violence had calmed around 33rd Street and Benton Boulevard during the months that Anthony "Fat Tone" Watkins ruled Kansas City's rap scene.

While his record sales rose over the past two years, Tone rapped about killing his enemies for glory and power, about ordering hits on rival gangs and about his new influence over younger members of the gangs that dominated 51st Street from Swope Parkway to the Paseo.

I'm the nigga, like I told ya/A 51st Street young soldier/And I'll fold you like a dollar bill/'cause I'm so for real niggas get the chills.

Gangsters who knew Fat Tone say he was a joke, but teens welcomed him when he arrived to pass out CDs in what had historically been rival territory. In the blocks from 30th Street to 39th Street between Prospect and Jackson avenues, gang members called themselves the Third Wall in honor of all the 3s in their addresses.

The corner of 33rd and Benton was the heart of that territory, and Cheri Clark knew it too well. Her sons had defended it for the Third Wall before they went to prison on drug convictions in 2003.

Late this May, four days after police in Las Vegas discovered Fat Tone's body in a Jeep at a construction site, Clark walked up to a dozen teens on 33rd Street and College Avenue, a block from Benton Boulevard. It looked as if the summer would be a bloody one, and Clark was worried.

The teens surrounded her as she stood in front of a small, white house, the home of Dominique Henderson. Clark was there to deliver a warning that the boys should be somewhere other than the streets. She asked how many thought they would live past 20, and they lowered their eyes to the pavement. Clark told them about the killings on those same streets four years earlier. Some of the boys said they remembered her nephew Alex, but otherwise they remained silent.

Seeing skinny Dominique among the bigger boys, Clark sternly asked how old he was. He told her he was 12. Was he still in school? "I go to Central," he said. Like many kids in the neighborhood, Dominique wore red and spent his afternoons hanging out on Third Wall corners.

Three weeks later, on June 15, Dominique's mother, 30-year-old Charlese Henderson, arrived home from her job at the state building downtown and took off her shoes. Then she heard gunshots coming from behind her house.

Charlese ran outside and saw men shooting into her backyard from the windows of a black Lincoln. Dominique didn't make a sound as he lay on the grass suffocating. A bullet had torn through his body, shattering a rib that punctured his lung.

"I said his name, and he looked at me," she says. "Then his eyes rolled back into his head."

In the weeks after Fat Tone died, shootings and murders spiked in the Third Wall and 51st Street neighborhoods. Some people have heard that Dominique's killers were from the 43rd Street neighborhood, gangsters who are trying to take over now that Fat Tone is gone.

Although police officials and spokesmen for the anti-crime organization Move Up don't agree, some street-level crime watchers theorize that much of this summer's bloodshed may be the result of young gangsters fighting for power in a vacuum created by Fat Tone's murder.

If so, the city's newest gangsters are simply repeating what Fat Tone did a year and a half ago, laying claim to the streets after police arrested a man named Steven Wright Jr.

Wright wasn't a musician who issued his threats on CD. But police say he is the most notorious gangster in the city's recent memory.

A city struggling to understand this summer's surge in violence might find clues in Wright's thick court files. Detectives charge that Wright, known on the streets as Moody, turned the city's streets into his own personal war zone.

Wright's alleged involvement in dozens of cop chases, robberies, shootings and killings -- all before he turned 18 -- earned him respect as a gangster who took the streets for himself.

Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department Detective James Herrington says Wright was one of the first cases that supervisors handed him when they launched the Career Criminal Unit in early 2000. If detectives took down the young gangster, police believed, the war would end between the 51st Street Crips and the Third Wall Bloods, and violent crime would decrease throughout the inner city.

After a three-year investigation, Herrington served Wright a federal warrant in October 2003, charging him with seven counts of conspiracy for masterminding a violent drug ring with 11 other 51st Street gangsters. Wright's trial has been delayed several times and is expected to be rescheduled again later this year.

Neither Wright nor his attorney would consent to an interview for this story. The information that follows has been gathered from the 17 pages of Wright's indictment and other police sources, and from interviews with Wright's fellow gang members and residents of the neighborhoods where he grew up.

Wright was known to look his adversaries in the eyes when he arrived to settle a dispute. His fearlessness gave him influence over gangsters who were years older, making the 51st Street Crips more organized than many of the other gangs in the inner city.

Before Wright's reign, Kansas City's gangs had been notable for their lack of organization.

David Starbuck, the original supervisor of the Kansas City Police Gang Unit, says organized street gangs arrived in Kansas City in the mid-1980s, when the drug-dealing families of the Waterhouse Posse immigrated from Kingston, Jamaica. The violent Jamaican gangs introduced crack to inner-city neighborhoods. In 1986, Starbuck was sworn in as a federal deputy to work beside agents for the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; Immigration and Naturalization Services; and the FBI to build federal conspiracy cases against gang members. Over the next three years, Starbuck says, hundreds of Jamaican nationals were convicted in federal court or deported -- or they fled. Police celebrated the victory, unaware of the more elusive gangsters recruiting young men throughout the inner city.

They had arrived from Los Angeles. Facing a police crackdown there, and afraid of the violence they'd created in their own neighborhoods, the weaker Bloods and Crips headed east. Here, without competition from other drug dealers, they could make good money. A kilogram of cocaine with a street value of $13,000 in Los Angeles could yield a $100,000 profit sold in small quantities as crack in Kansas City.

Drive-by shootings in Kansas City, a trademark of the war between the California Bloods and Crips, jumped from 15 in 1989 to 297 in 1990.

Here, though, the culture evolved as a hybrid. Kansas City gangsters would jump from a Bloods sect to a Crips sect, then back again. Crews branched off and began running their own trades. As they made enemies, the new breed showed less respect for older leaders. Frustrated, many of the Los Angeles gangsters left town after a few years, leaving the local sects even more disorganized. In 1994, according to one academic study, police confirmed 39 gangs with about 700 members throughout the city. Today, police say 3,137 gangsters run in more than 100 gangs.

"When those California niggers came, stepped off that plane, I was sitting right there," says Rashawn Long, who was 9 years old in 1990 when the Los Angeles gangs arrived on 51st Street.

Police say Long went on to become a hit man for Steven Wright Jr. a decade later. Perhaps protecting his leader, Long tells the Pitch that Moody was too scared to pull a trigger. So one night, Long did it instead. He's now serving a 12-year sentence at Crossroads Correctional Center in Cameron, Missouri, for murdering one of his childhood friends.

Long remembers sitting on the porch of his home in a quiet neighborhood at 51st Street and Brookwood Avenue, watching his uncle, who was only a few years older, hanging out with the newcomers on their corner.

His uncle began inviting him to house parties where older neighborhood teens drank and smoked pot and PCP-laced cigarettes. They called themselves the 51st Street Crips. Long began trying to impress them.

"We graduated from stealing bicycles to stealing pit bulls to selling dope," he says. Given an ounce of cocaine to sell, Long would divide it, then look for buyers in nearby neighborhoods. By the mid-1990s, he estimates, $20,000 passed through his hands each month, but he says he kept only about $2,500 a month for himself. The rest went to the men supplying the drugs.

Eventually Long learned that if he wanted to make real money, he'd have to rip off rival gangsters. He began scouting different neighborhoods and hitting homes, stealing drugs and cash.

By his midteens, Long was earning his name as a so-called original gangster among the 51st Street Crips. People on the streets called him "Munch" because when he was a child, his aunt told him he looked like a munchkin.

"It's exciting," he says of the gangster life. "It's an adrenaline rush, just like robbing banks. You do it once, you got to do it again. Everything about violence is a rush, as far as robbing banks, murder, selling dope."

Long wasted his money shooting dice in hotel rooms crammed with "square dudes" from the neighborhoods. "You can call them up, 'Hey, we got a dice game over here,' and let them know about the hotel room that got about 50 motherfuckers with probably a quarter-million dollars within the room."

Long threw thousands into the games -- money stolen from other gangsters and drug dealers. As he gained new enemies, they began killing the men he ran with. With each new death, Long realized he might never be able to turn away from the gang.

"That just makes you want to get in deeper," Long says.

Around 1997, a kid nicknamed Moody started coming around to shoot craps with Long and the older boys. At 14, Wright impressed the older gangsters because he spun masterful tricks with the dice. The numbers always landed in his favor.

Smiling, Long calls Wright family.

"We was ahead of our time," Long says. "We grew up and had to turn into men at a young age. It's like if you put a cub in the jungle, he's going to have to adapt to his surroundings and turn into a savage."

Moody soon began running drugs for the 51st Street Crips.

Born on June 10, 1983, Wright had grown up at the corner of 51st Street and Bellefontaine Avenue. His father, Steven Wright Sr., now 45, would be sentenced to prison several times on drug charges. (He is now serving a 14-year sentence for cocaine distribution.) In 1997, his mother was sentenced to three years' probation after police found crack in her car during a traffic stop.

He earned the nickname Moody when he was an infant because he craved attention, says one family member. "He always wanted to be held. We babied him. That's why we gave him that name."

When he was in his early teens, he went to church every Sunday. At 14, he stood only about 5 feet 4 inches tall and didn't weigh much more than 100 pounds. He looked after his siblings -- six sisters and a brother -- cooking them breakfast, laughing and telling jokes. "He's just a happy person," the family member says. "That little man ain't going to cause that much fear to grown people."

When he had a daughter in November 2001, he was a good father. "He's very caring and has a heart," the family member says.

But around 1997, residents in the Third Wall began recognizing the 51st Street Crips rolling through. They started to think Moody was responsible for the neighborhood's escalating violence.

One woman who has lived near 33rd and Benton for nearly 15 years says her sons ran from Moody and other 51st Street Crips who leaned out of cars with handguns and assault rifles. Her oldest son pulls up his shirt to show where he was hit by a high-caliber round that pierced his upper arm, leaving a scar the size of a child's fist.

As the woman spoke with her neighbors, word always came back that it was Moody or another gangster in his crew. It was as if Moody wanted them to know he was behind the shootings.

Meanwhile, Cheri Clark was losing her sons to the Third Wall Bloods.

They dressed in red down to their shoelaces. Her youngest, Tommy Simmons, was going by the name Tommy Gun. He and Moody were starting to shoot at each other -- she says it started in high school when Tommy and Moody both had crushes on the same girl.

A week after Tommy and the girl began dating, Clark says, someone shot up Tommy's car.

None of it made sense. Clark had gone to St. Vincent High School with Wright's mother, who had dated Clark's brother. "All of them were friends at one time," Clark says of their sons.

Now they were warring in the streets.

Wright's indictment reveals that between July 17, 1999, and November 19, 2002, he was charged with 14 felonies after police recovered drugs and guns from his vehicle during traffic stops or raids on his home. Police say Wright was holding or had stolen 100 grams of PCP, 600 grams of cocaine, 140 grams of marijuana, 11 grams of Ecstasy and 18 doses of prescription medication. Police recovered more than $40,000 in cash during arrests and raids on the homes of Wright and other 51st Street Crips. Over that time, investigators confiscated 12 handguns and three assault rifles and traced four of the guns to the scenes of aggravated assaults.

By all accounts, Wright had an instinct and leadership style more common to gangsters in Los Angeles.

His gang was infamous by the end of the 1990s, but Moody established his own legacy during the brutal year between June 2000 and June 2001. He has been charged with shooting ten people and murdering three others over those 12 months.

The blitz began on June 13, 2000, when Wright allegedly sped through the intersection of 33rd Street and Chestnut Avenue and opened fire on Alex Clark and a friend named Roland Jordan. (Both men lived.) Just past midnight less than 36 hours later, detectives say, Wright went to 51st Street and College Avenue to buy cocaine from a man named Hector Santos. The two had done business before, but this time, as Santos rode away on his bicycle, reports say, Wright mowed him down with an assault rifle to steal 500 grams, or half a kilo, of cocaine.

A month later, detectives went to Wright's house to serve him with a warrant on a drug charge. They found him hiding in a bedroom, his house stocked with weapons. A ballistics test showed that one of the handguns in the house had been used to shoot Alex Clark and Roland Jordan. Wright posted bond on the drug charges. The following week, on July 18, Alex Clark's cousin, Tommy "Gun" Simmons, was shot in another drive-by; again, police concluded that the shooter had been Moody.

Things were just as dangerous for Moody's crew. All but one who ran with him ended up dead or in prison.

Police say Wright laid low until February 2001, when he plotted with Rashawn Long to silence two members of their own gang, who they feared had turned against them.

At 2:30 a.m. on February 1, 2001, police reports say, Wright, Long and fellow gang members Michael Birks, 24, and William Williams, 20, conspired to rob an acquaintance they believed would be carrying $10,000 in cash. Birks called the man and asked to meet at the corner of 30th Street and Benton.

Wright and Long drove in one car, Birks and Williams in another.

While they waited for the man to arrive, Wright and Long grew impatient and drove away. Birks and Williams stayed, and soon Birks' acquaintance drove up with a passenger.

As Birks stepped out of his car, Williams opened fire on the other men, wounding them both. Birks went through his acquaintance's pants looking for the money. Then he surprised Williams by getting into the victims' car and driving one passenger to a home in the 3000 block of Montgall Avenue and the other to Research Medical Center. (Both men survived.)

Fearing Birks might have spoken to police, Wright, Long and Williams decided to kill him.

According to police, Birks met his gang brothers outside an apartment and told them that the stolen goods were hidden inside. After breaking into the apartment, the four boldly returned to 30th and Chestnut, a block from where Williams had shot the men two hours before. When they arrived at the Third Wall corner, Birks got out of the car to score some PCP for the group.

As he returned with the drugs, Williams opened fire again, shooting Birks repeatedly. (Williams is serving a 12-year sentence at Crossroads Correctional Center for his role in the killing.) After Birks fell, police investigators later reported, "Long produced a different 9 mm handgun, pointed it at Birks' head and fired one shot."

In prison at Cameron, Long tells the Pitch he doesn't like talking about the night he killed his childhood friend. He says he acted alone.

"I got a call from Birks and a few other guys," Long says. "All this shit transpired -- something bad, some faulty deal went down. Man, I guess they was trying to set me up. It was a spontaneous type of reaction. Him and a guy he was with, I guess they was up to something no good. I just reacted and I shot him to the point where what was done was done."

None of it was worth it, he says now, because what Birks might have told police wasn't enough to get Long indicted.

But one of the original 51st Street Crips would later describe that night for detectives, and his story would contradict Long's version of events. Detectives would go on to charge Wright with murder for his role in the killing of his fellow 51st Street Crip.

Despite the troubles within the 51st Street gang, police say, Moody continued his onslaught against outside rivals.

He's charged with shooting a man in a meth deal at 16th Terrace and Ewing Avenue on April 2, 2001, and shooting another man near the Loma Vista Bowling Alley off Blue Ridge Boulevard two weeks later. (Both men lived.) In the days that followed, police arrested Wright with Jamal Norris, who detectives believe was a drug runner for the 51st Street Crips, selling stolen drugs to further their trade. The two were captured with a 9 mm pistol loaded with 17 rounds; ballistics tests matched the gun with the assault at the bowling alley the week before.

While he was out on bail in late May of that year, police spotted Wright driving with a passenger in a stolen car at 46th Street and Cleveland Avenue. He sped away but eventually stopped at 4519 East 39th Street.

Officer Larry Liebsch, who had patrolled 51st Street for years and watched Moody organize the gangsters there, says Wright backed the car into a space. Liebsch says Wright and his passenger had their heads down when he parked his police car in front of them.

"As soon as they pulled their heads up, we were out of our car and had our guns drawn," Liebsch recalls. "Stevie punched it, and he came right at me. I tried to get out of the way, and he ran me down."

Liebsch says the car hit his right leg, but he rolled off and wasn't seriously injured.

Wright accelerated toward a retaining wall with a 4-foot drop, cleared it and took off. The incident earned him a warrant for aggravated assault on a police officer.

Two weeks later, Wright turned 18.

It was just after midnight on June 29, 2001, when Cheri Clark got the call that her 22-year-old nephew Alex had been shot at the corner of 33rd Street and Benton Boulevard, only a couple of houses from where her mother lived. Her first thought was that Moody had come for Alex again.

Clark believed that Moody's hatred for the Third Wall wasn't about turf or retaliation for some bad business. Instead, she thought, it was personal.

Clark drove to the heart of Third Wall territory. She saw a body in the street and recognized the red pants and sneakers Alex always wore. Police held her back about 10 yards from the body.

Witnesses say Alex was wearing headphones, and his killer snuck up out of the shadows. The first shot hit him in the back of the head. Detectives told Clark that her nephew had been shot 15 times, including five bullets fired at such close range that his face was blown off.

"I walked down the sidewalk and saw white bone fragments," recalls Clark, now 47. "After homicide left, the fire department came and they washed down the blood. You could see the brains going down the sidewalk."

Federal prosecutors have charged Wright in the slaying of Alex Clark.

What haunted Cheri Clark was that Alex's older brother was friendly with the 51st Street Crips and had a baby boy with Moody's cousin. Family ties weren't enough to break the hatred between the gangs.

After the family buried Alex in early July, they returned to Cheri Clark's home in the 7200 block of the Paseo. As family and friends visited in the front yard, Clark noticed a Jeep approaching. As it got closer, she saw a young boy struggling inside.

"The little boy dived out the window, right into my yard. I'm like, 'Hold up, hold up, little boy.' He just ran up there talking about, 'They're going to kill me! They're going to kill me! They're going to kill me!'"

She watched the Jeep circle back after the boy escaped. "They were 51st Street," Clark says. "They were Crips. They were Moody's boys."

The one who spoke for them, Clark says, was Anthony "Fat Tone" Watkins.

"He pointed to the little boy and said, 'Hey, the dude sold our shit and we're trying to handle our business with him.' He said, 'Man don't you know Moody? Give him up to us for Moody. Give us up the little boy out of respect for Moody.'"

Clark says her son Tommy showed Watkins the scars on his arm from a shootout and told Watkins to come get the kid himself. As a fight broke out, Clark called police. Gangsters from both sides jumped on the young boy, but he squirmed away.

By the time Alex Clark was killed, Wright was losing his hold on the 51st Street Crips. Long and Williams were in jail waiting to be sentenced for Michael Birks' killing, and soon undercover detectives would make a buy from the gang's drug runner, Jamal Norris; like Wright, Norris awaits a federal trial on the drug conspiracy charges.

The violence calmed for a few months, until October 3, 2001, when Martice Stewart was shot dead at 39th Street and Brooklyn Avenue. Police alleged that Wright and at least two other men in a van pulled up and opened fire on Stewart and Damion Cook, who were standing on a porch.

A week after Stewart's death, Wright was sent to prison for two felonies police had witnessed months before.

The second week of October, Wright appeared in court before Circuit Judge David Shinn to plead guilty to assaulting Officer Liebsch during the police chase, and to charges filed after police saw Wright speeding, chased him and observed Wright and Norris throwing drugs from their car. Shinn gave Wright a 120-day callback sentence, meaning that if Wright behaved during his first four months in prison, he could return home to serve a three-year sentence under house arrest.

"That's a standard disposition on that type of a case," says criminal defense lawyer Willis Toney, who has represented Wright on about a dozen felony cases. "He had no prior felony record at the time."

After showing good behavior, Wright was released from the Western Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center in St. Joseph on February 15, 2002, and ordered to remain on home monitoring.

Charged also in Stewart's killing, Wright faced his first murder trial in August 2002.

Prosecutors alleged that Wright and other men pulled up to 3823 Brooklyn and opened fire on Stewart and Cook as the two stood on the porch. Stewart and Cook shot back.

Cook told investigators that Wright had trailed him to 38th Street and Brooklyn Avenue before the gunfight. "The allegation was that Steve and two of his friends drove by, and Steve hung out of the van with an AK-47 and shot at this house," Toney tells the Pitch.

But the bullets that hit Stewart were fired from a small-caliber handgun, not an assault rifle. Court records from the trial are closed, but Toney says testimony revealed that Cook was firing a .38-caliber gun at the van, which more accurately matched the slugs found in Stewart's body during the autopsy.

"He ends up shooting his own friend in the back," Toney says.

The trial lasted a week, but the jury took only 20 minutes to find Wright not guilty.

Over the next year, while serving probation, Wright was arrested three times on traffic violations. Then, on October 8, 2003, his parole officer gave him permission to leave home to speak with his lawyer about a pending federal charge.

Later that day, Herrington served the federal warrant at Wright's apartment at 11210 South Oak, seizing more than $10,000 cash from inside.

Herrington says it took Wright a few minutes to answer the door, but he didn't resist. "He knew who I was," Herrington says.

After a federal grand jury returned the conspiracy indictment naming Wright the leader of the 51st Street Crips and Jamal Norris his top dealer, witnesses slowly stepped forward to tell detectives about the shootings and murders, which were added to the conspiracy charges.

"The bigger breaks came after he was in custody," Herrington says. "That's the problem with the investigation. People are afraid of him, and they don't want to talk, in fear of their family getting whacked."

Officer Liebsch says shootings and assaults in the 51st Street neighborhoods have soared in the year and a half since Wright went to jail. Wright's notorious methods for achieving power, Liebsch says, could be one reason the next generation of gangsters appears so eager to shoot. "We've got people who are taking his place," Liebsch says.

One member of Wright's family disputes witnesses' characterization of him: "I'm not saying he's all good, but I know the murders and all that are not true. He didn't order nothing. He didn't have that kind of power." Regarding the theory that Wright set the standard for today's violence, the family member says, "The killings that are going on today have nothing to do with him."

Similarly, Rashawn Long says Wright isn't what detectives have made him out to be. "The man ain't nothing but a gambler. Here they turn him into the leader of the Crips, a murderer, dope dealer.... When I was out on the streets, Stevie was like 17 or 16. Stevie is the youngest out of all of us. How can he be the leader of anything?"

But tellingly, he adds, "You could lead by example ... the leaders are going to be under the table, quiet."

After Moody went down, Anthony "Fat Tone" Watkins saw opportunity and claimed he was the new mastermind behind the 51st Street violence. Everyone knew Fat Tone had little say when Moody was running the streets, and several sources have told the Pitch that Watkins and Wright were on bad terms when Wright went to jail. But on his albums, Watkins glorified himself as a killer: You bitch-ass pussy I'll take your life/We can be in a church or in front of the vice/I'll slide right upon you, make you drop your gun/First shot hit you hard, make you swallow your tongue.

In fact, it isn't easy to spot the gangsters in the neighborhood anymore. Liebsch says at least three gangs run 51st Street from Swope Parkway to the Paseo, and membership is constantly changing. Since January, he says, two gangs along 51st Street have started a turf war in their own neighborhood, shooting into about a dozen of each other's homes.

Last fall, Charlese Henderson moved her four children into a house at 33rd Street and College Avenue from a two-bedroom at 80th Street and Brooklyn Avenue. She needed more space for her kids. The new home was big enough, but Henderson didn't understand the history of the corner.

Violence was sporadic at first -- she remembers seeing an occasional flash of light outside her windows at night, but she thought it was just kids playing with fireworks. She soon realized it was gunfire in her backyard.

Two summers after the grand jury returned its 17-page indictment against Steven Wright Jr., and less than three months after Fat Tone's murder, a new panic has settled in. Over the past 60 days, residents have endured more than a dozen drive-by shootings, many aimed at the Third Wall territory.

On June 15, Charlese Henderson scooped her 12-year-old son into her arms and ran screaming to the fire station two blocks away. Firefighters tried to resuscitate him in the circle drive, but he was already dead.

It was as if Moody had returned again, says one neighborhood resident. "Twelve years old," she says. "His life hadn't even started. Twelve years old."

The next Wednesday, two men were shot in a car at 39th Street and Indiana Avenue, the southern border of Third Wall's territory. Residents have begun to suspect a new group of gangsters, this time coming from 43rd Street. People fear that they're fighting simply for glory and initiation.

"Nowadays there don't have to be nothing behind it and they'll shoot," says a former associate of the Third Wall Bloods. He says Moody created terror in the neighborhood, and the next generation appears to have his ruthless nature. "They do it just to say, 'I shot at them.' They want to show the next dudes 'We ain't no punks,' to get a name, to be cool with the dudes."

On Tuesday, June 28, Cheri Clark stands with her brother Eddie and around 20 other men, women and children who are writing on the streets in colored chalk as part of a vigil for Alex.

"That was very unnatural," Eddie Clark says of the way his son was murdered: 15 shots, including five at close range. "It would only take one bullet."

Cars thump past, heavy bass rolling down the open streets and avenues intersecting Benton Boulevard. Homes are pocked with bullet holes, some fresh.

Down the street, a young man approaches. His shirt off, he walks confidently, muscles rippling on his thin arms and chest. "Third Wall Soldier" is tattooed across his stomach.

Smiling, he asks what's going on.

Cheri Clark tells him that they are commemorating the fourth anniversary of her nephew's murder, that chunks of Alex's skull and brain had sprayed on the sidewalk where the young man now stood.

Clark notices his tattoo.

"Would you still die for the Third Wall?" she asks.

"Always," he says, and walks away.

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