Just hours before Harris was gunned down during the robbery of the New Haven jazz club around 2 a.m. on Sept. 20, his wife was upset, and her husband of 23 years, as usual, was there with words of encouragement.
“Before he left he put his hand under my chin and told me to cheer up,” Annette Harris recalled during her first interview since her husband’s shooting death, which sent shock waves through Baltimore. “He said to me, ‘Don’t worry. Things are going to work out. I’m going somewhere, and I’ll be home soon. Where’s your faith?'
“That was Kenny. He was always the one cheering me up and telling me to be positive. That was his way.”
But the popular, outspoken former councilman never returned home. Instead, a group of robbers, one wearing a Halloween-style mask, shot Harris in the back outside the Haven Lounge — just blocks from Morgan State University, where the couple met nearly 25 years ago.
“I keep thinking that I wished I had kept him home,” she said. “I shouldn’t have let him go out.”
Now, more than two weeks after her 45-year-old husband was gunned down, Annette Harris said she has focused her grief on one thing.
“My main priority is trying to find out who murdered my husband,” she said. “If it had happened to one of his friends, he would have been outraged. I have that same drive and motivation that he had, and I’m not going to rest until I know what happened.”
Police released video footage Sunday showing several men, one with a mask under his arm, walking past an ATM camera in the Northwood Shopping Plaza just minutes before Harris was slain. The Haven Lounge is located in the strip mall.
Investigators also are following leads after a ballistics test matched the bullet that killed Harris to a bullet recovered from a nearby BP gas station that was robbed In January.
For Annette Harris, her husband’s death is particularly difficult, given his lifelong dedication to public safety and police policy.
“The same thing that Kenny fought against is the same thing he ended up being a victim of, and that’s a very sad thing,” she said.
While the Baltimore Police Department has been keeping her updated on the investigation, she questioned why more was not done to alert the public about a rash of robberies that have occurred in the area over the past several months.
“There were other robberies, and I think I have to question why the public wasn’t notified about it?” she said.
Harris also said reports of a female passenger in her husband’s car at the time he was shot were overblown. (Harris was at the club to borrow a corkscrew.)
“Kenny knew a lot of people, and it was not unusual for him to give someone a ride,” she said. “I don’t think it’s important to the case.”
With her husband dead — and his killers still on the loose — Harris said it’s hard to hold back tears.
“I woke up this morning, and I was really down and very upset,” she said. “He could take a situation that was so bleak and hopeless and he could just turn it around and make it positive. Who is going to do that for me now?”
Examiner Staff Writer Luke Broadwater contributed to this report.