Shooting victim mourned

May 21, 1999|By BRENDAN KIRBY

Samuel J. Marshall took his stepson Wednesday afternoon to be measured for a tuxedo for his girlfriend's prom.

"I never saw him again after that," he said.

Hagerstown police officers on Thursday morning found Desmar Bernard Artis dead in a parking lot at 60 East Ave., more than a mile from his home on Magnolia Court.

Investigators, who believe the 18-year-old Baltimore native may have been shot near Franklin and Locust streets before collapsing at East Avenue, said they are searching for suspects and a motive for the slaying.

Back home, a devastated family came together on Friday.

"He was an excellent student," said his older sister, Satara Taylor, 24, who flew from her home in Arizona when she heard the news.


Taylor said her brother loved sports, especially wrestling. She said he was well-liked.

"That's how we want him to be remembered," she said. "People in the community have come over to my family."

Marshall, who has been married to Artis' mother, Vivian Taylor-Marshall, for about a year, said he rushed home from work Thursday when he got a call that police were at his house.

"This is a very difficult time for our family. We loved him very much," he said. "Although, he was my stepson, I loved him like he was my very own, and he knew that."

Marshall described Artis as a good kid who had made mistakes in the past.

"He did some juvenile time, but it wasn't for anything earth-shattering," Marshall said. "I think it helped him mature."

Marshall said Artis had some trouble adjusting to a new town and new friends when the family moved almost four years ago.

However, Artis earned high school credit during his time at the juvenile facility and was preparing to graduate from North Hagerstown High School, Marshall said.

Marshall said Artis was smart but sometimes complained that the classes in the juvenile facility were not challenging enough. Math was his best subject, he said.

"He loved to read," he said.

Marshall said Artis had been working for about a month at a temporary employment agency and was considering joining the U.S. Marines.

Marshall said he believed Artis had turned the corner.

"That was the frustrating part. He had put a lot of this stuff behind him. He was starting to get his life back together," he said.

Marshall said he did not approve of some of his stepson's friends.

"If I could have changed anything, it would not be who his friends were, but I'd change where he went to hang out with his friends," he said.

Police Lt. Gary Spielman said area residents reported hearing four or five shots in rapid succession.

He said investigators have interviewed people "that may have knowledge" of the situation and are awaiting the results of an autopsy that was performed Friday.

The neighborhood where the shooting occurred has been plagued by violence in recent years.

"We're dealing with a lot of folks that don't know the people very well. And if they do know them, they know them by street names," Spielman said.

Marshall and his wife moved to Hagerstown almost four years ago when she got a job at Citicorp Credit Services. He said he works for United Propane Inc.

In their time of agony, Marshall said the family has turned to God.

"It hurts. We cried a lot. We even asked why," said Marshall, who is a deacon at his church in Baltimore. "But we trust in God that this thing is going to work out OK."

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