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Demetris Henry grew up in West Baltimore’s Rosemont neighborhood, one of nine children and part of a larger family of cousins and an aunt who helped his mother raise him. He graduated high school, got a good job as a security guard and started a family of his own.
On April 18, the 24-year-old sat with his mother, Kisha Henry, and the rest of the family to celebrate her grandson’s fifth birthday. The young boy had just started playing flag football, Kisha Henry said, and his father was proud.
Less than a week later, the family gathered again, this time to mourn. Demetris Henry died April 24, after being shot multiple times on Fairview Avenue in the Forest Park neighborhood of Northwest Baltimore. No one has been charged in his killing.
“He did all the right things to prevent himself from being a statistic, and he still became one,” Kisha Henry said in a recent interview.
His family said Demetris grew up surrounded by relatives, spending his time on Grayson Street and around the corner with cousins on Brighton Street. The extended family of cousins and aunts considered Kisha’s children as brothers and sisters, as their own, remembered a cousin, Terrell Williams.
Henry was just an infant when he went live with the Williams family, and Terrell said he treated him like his own baby brother. They all looked out for each other, pitching in when needed.
“In the Black community, this is what we do — it isn’t uncommon,” said Williams, 39. “His mom has a big heart. At any time, you could come home and have a family member staying with you for some time. This is something we do.”
Kisha Henry said she never had a problem from her son, and that he loved basketball and football and watching dirt bikes. He became a father when he was 19.
Terrell Williams said recently that Henry was brought up in a “traditional” Black middle class family and as a kid loved hip-hop music. Williams described Henry’s childhood experience as “normal.”
Henry attended Belmont Elementary School, the Empowerment Academy for middle school and the Academy for College and Career Exploration for high school. There he participated in activities such as a Peer Group Connection, a weekend retreat in Edgewater, where students learned to build relationships, his family said.
On April 28, four days after the shooting, nearly 100 of his friends and family gathered at a candlelight vigil near Rosedale and Presstman Streets in Rosemont.
The killing came as a shock, his family said, because Henry lived a stable life, caring for his son and working as a security officer with Allied Universal for nearly five years.
Henry’s family resents the negative and unfair presumption by many in the community that Black males falling victim to gun violence in Baltimore did something to bring it on themselves. It isn’t true, the family said.
“It’s just crazy. A lot of times people think just because a young Black man was killed, he was doing something deserving to be murdered” Williams said. “It’s one of those stigmas in a city like Baltimore that is hard to get past. That is something people often assume without knowing the person.
“He was a young man that was doing the stuff that you would want to see a young man do for his family. Just to have his life taken for nothing, for nonsense.”
On April 24 around 8:30 a.m., Northwest District police officers were called to the 3400 block of Fairview Avenue to investigate a reported shooting. Officers found evidence of a shooting, but Henry already had been taken to an area hospital by family members, police said.
Henry was pronounced dead by Sinai Hospital medical personnel shortly after arriving. Baltimore police announced a $4,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in Henry’s death.
Baltimore police have not provided any updates on Henry’s death or their investigation, aside from an incident report provided to The Sun last week. Allied Security did not respond to emails or a phone call.
A funeral service for Henry is scheduled for Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. at Sharon Baptist Church at 1375 N. Stricker St.