Jasmine Brunson Jr. bought two blue suits.
The first he wore to his junior prom last Thursday, which he called “the best night of my life.” The second he will be buried in.
Brunson, a student at Carver Vocational-Technical High School, was shot to death early Friday just hours after leaving the school dance.
The shooting was reported around 3:30 a.m. at a home in the 1700 block of East Lafayette Street, where family said Brunson was attending an afterparty. Baltimore Police said the victim died in the hospital. Officials have not released any information about a potential motive.
The deadly attack came amid a week of horrific violence in Baltimore, including two mass shootings that left 10 people wounded last Tuesday — the first around lunchtime when one shooter fired an estimated 60 rounds from an assault rifle — and a double homicide Thursday night when a pregnant woman and her fiancé were shot outside their home. The rash of shootings prompted outcry from both residents and elected officials, even before Brunson was killed early Friday.
A charismatic teenager, Brunson was determined to look good for prom. After agonizing over the decision, he chose a tailored pale blue suit accessorized with a black bowtie, spotless sneakers and rimless aviator sunglasses. The result was a big success.
“Man, this turned out to be the best night of my life,” he told Brandon Lee, a graphic communications teacher at Carver Vocational-Technical School, while the two were chatting during prom.
Lee responded without hesitation: “You’re gonna have many more nights like this.”
News of his death came the next morning, sweeping through the Carver Vo-Tech community. Teachers and administrators said the school lost one of its brightest lights.
“He was just one of those kids you knew was going to be somebody,” Lee said.
Brunson became a serious boxer while school was remote during the pandemic, and he returned to campus full of energy, excited to share his new passion. He would bounce through the hallways, carrying his boxing gloves and dreaming about someday becoming a professional athlete, teachers said.
“Jasmine had goals he wanted to accomplish, and once he wanted to do something, he dove all the way in,” said Ronald Wallace, the 11th grade administrator. “People just seemed to gravitate toward him.”
His aunt, Jessica Hair, said she went into his bedroom recently to retrieve the suit for his funeral and was reminded once again of a bright future cut short.
“He had Muhammad Ali on the wall and his boxing gloves still sitting on the bed,” she said. “He boxed. That’s what he did. He really loved it.”
He also got good grades, was studying carpentry and worked as a lifeguard during the summer. He was a loving brother to his little sister, his aunt said.
The family created a GoFundMe page to raise money for funeral costs, and Hair said the donations and kind messages have been pouring in, a testament to the enormous love her nephew gave and received.
While hoping for justice, Hair said, she keeps asking herself what could have possibly motivated his killer.
“I just feel like this world is becoming a hateful place. I mean, what are we coming to?” she said. “Where is the respect and empathy, where is the love that’s supposed to outweigh everything?”
Monday was the first day back for Carver students since junior prom night because Friday was a professional development day. But a lot of Brunson’s close friends stayed home.
School administrators brought in a team of grief counselors to help students process the loss of their classmate.
Tynisha Squire, who teaches algebra II, said she ran into a group of Brunson’s friends in the hallway Monday morning and asked how they were holding up.
“Immediately, they broke down,” she said. So she took them into an empty classroom to talk.
“I told them to understand that it’s OK to not be OK right now. I’ve done my crying; I’m not OK,” she said. “In times like this, all you can do is be there for people.”
The timing makes his death somehow even harder to process, teachers said.
During prom, Brunson was in his element — dressed to the nines, posing for photos and socializing with everyone. The dance was Paris-themed, complete with Eiffel Tower decorations, and the students looked glamorous and carefree, Carver Principal Shionta Somerville said.
“He was the type of person who works the room,” Somerville said with a laugh. “When I saw him walking toward me with this big smile, I thought, ‘Wow, he cleans up so well.’”
In a school of nearly 1,000 kids, Brunson was unusually well-known, making him a positive role model for other students, Somerville said.
Baltimore Police homicide detectives asked anyone with information about the shooting to contact them at 410-396-2100 or Metro Crime Stoppers at 1-866-7Lockup.
Baltimore Sun reporter Jessica Anderson contributed to this article.