15-year-old killed over shoes, Prince George's police say

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Local,Maryland,Crime,Rachel Baye,Prince Georges County

A 15-year-old boy was killed in Prince George's County on Monday afternoon over a pair of shoes, police said Tuesday.

Prince George's County police say they found Charles "Chuck" Walker Jr., a Suitland High School freshman, at roughly 4:20 p.m. Monday, suffering from a single gunshot wound on the 4100 block of 28th Avenue in Hillcrest Heights, less than two blocks from his home. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

When police found Chuck, he was carrying a shopping bag from a shoe store, and Police Chief Mark Magaw said they believe he was killed in an effort to rob him of the shoes. But the Timberland shoes -- which friends say were a gift for Walker's girlfriend -- were left at the scene.

"There was a confrontation. A robbery demand was made. Mr. Walker turned and was shot. The bag stayed on the scene," Magaw said. "We don't believe that the individuals that committed this crime went through that bag and said, 'Those aren't the shoes I want.' They never got that far."

Though the police have some leads on suspects, they are not releasing any information on them. Magaw said he expects to solve the case quickly.

"He didn't deserve to die. He was so sweet and funny. He was always the person to make you laugh," said Lelanee Isaac, 14, as she visited the makeshift memorial at the site where he was killed. She lives down the street from the Walkers.

"Nobody's safe no more. You can't even walk out your door with a pair of shoes."

Chuck's death prompted other friends and classmates at Suitland High to take to social media, posting photos and memories on Twitter.

"We are deeply saddened by the tragic death of one of our students. These senseless acts of violence against our children are becoming all too familiar and far too common," said Prince George's County Public Schools spokesman Briant Coleman.

The school system said it is providing grief counseling for students, teachers and staff.

Chuck is the fifth Prince George's youth killed this school year, which county officials pointed to as evidence of a need to take larger action. State's Attorney Angela Alsobrooks said his death was the last straw.

"I am really enraged that a young person in our community can't walk the streets with a shopping bag without being shot in the back," she said. "We need our parents to wrap their arms around their children and to teach them proper values -- go to school, work hard and then buy tennis shoes. We don't kill individuals for tennis shoes."

Magaw and Alsobrooks said they soon plan to announce a new initiative aimed at curbing youth violence.

Two of the four youth murders that happened before Chuck's have been solved, and Magaw said he expects to solve the other two in the next week and a half.

"We are significantly down in homicides across the board -- robberies this year so far are down 35 percent," Magaw said. "But they don't mean anything when you have a young person killed in a community."

rbaye@washingtonexaminer.com

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