Wednesday, December 1, 2010

More than a statistic

"A 16-year-old was fatally shot in the head Tuesday afternoon on a street corner in the Petworth area of Northwest Washington, D.C. police said.

"Police responded for the sounds of gunshots at 8th Street and Delafield Place about 4:30 p.m., and found Prince Okorie, of Northwest Washington, suffering from gunshot wounds, said Officer Hugh Carew, a spokesman. Okorie was taken to a hospital, where he was later pronounced dead."

What this article fails to mention is that Prince was known and loved by many people. Not only did I work with him in a tutoring program, but I attended the same church congregation, I know his family, and I see how this tragedy is leaving those who cared about Prince in shock.

According to the D.C. police department statistics, there have been 120 homicides so far this year, which continues a downward trend that has been occurring for the past two years. And compared to the 232 murders that happened in 2001, we are making great strides to improve the safety of the city. Unfortunately, 40% of these crimes are still unsolved, and about 30% of them will become "cold cases" that are no longer actively investigated.

I can't help thinking about the numbers when I think about Prince. How I don't like those numbers. How I don't find any comfort in knowing homicide rates are down. How those numbers don't represent Prince.

Prince was your average teenager. He fought with his sister and talked back to his mother and tried pushing the boundaries. But he was also quiet and sweet and smart. He could have been anything, done anything with his life. All that potential lost.

Too many children are eaten alive by the violence of the inner city. And sometimes, no matter how much people love them or how hard people try to help them, the statistics don't play in their favor. So the next time you read about the statistics, see Prince there. Those numbers are important because there are people behind them. And every one of them matters.


  1. I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of someone you cared so deeply about and especially in such a tragic way. You're right in that statistics are not just numbers--they do represent people, and it's too easy to forget that. Please know that my thoughts and prayers are with you and Prince's family during this difficult time.

  2. Yesterday I was in shock, today I'm just angry. I'm so angry my kids have to deal with this. I'm so angry we let this violence continue to happen. I'm so angry his mom and sisters have to go through this all. I'm so angry he's gone.

  3. Thanks for covering this. I plan to write an article on Okorie's murder as well as the recent deaths of other teens in the city. I have a new series on my blog (Dissenting Justice) called: "Every Murder Victim Has a Story." It reports on neglected homicide victims in Washington, DC. Here is a link to one of the stories. I plan to cite you in the future.

  4. Darren, thanks for bringing awareness to this issue. We can never do enough for the kids who have already suffered, but maybe we can help prevent more kids from suffering the same fate.

  5. Hi, Kathryn. As promised, I wrote an article on Prince and other recent homicide victims. I quoted your blog in the section on Prince. Thanks a lot for your essay. Every Murder Victim Has A Story: A Surge In Teen Homicides