‘They took my daddy’: Fam­ily mourns fa­ther of 3 shot in D.C.

The Washington Post Sunday - - COMMUTER - THE DISTRICT BY CLARENCE WIL­LIAMS clarence.wil­liams@wash­post.com

Latese Alexan­der stood in dis­be­lief as she held a plas­tic LED can­dle in the Em­manuel Bap­tist Church park­ing lot in the District one re­cent night, still puz­zled and in shock as she awaited the start of a vigil for her 34-year-old son, Delonta.

There un­der the park­ing lot’s bright flood­lights, 100 yards from the scene of her son’s mur­der, she waited for her grand­chil­dren — Delonta Alexan­der’s 10-year-old daugh­ter and two sons, ages 5 and 4 — to ar­rive. All the while, she had no idea how to pro­ceed, how to say good­bye to the re­spect­ful son who died in the Wood­land com­mu­nity he of­ten vis­ited.

“I’m not sup­posed to be here,” she mut­tered to her­self. “He’s not sup­posed to be in the morgue.”

Delonta Alexan­der was found gravely wounded after a 911 caller di­aled author­i­ties just after 1 a.m. on March 4 and re­ported that a gun­shot vic­tim was in the hall­way of a build­ing in the 2700 block of Langston Place SE. Re­spond­ing D.C. po­lice of­fi­cers found Alexan­der, of South­west Wash­ing­ton, un­con­scious on his back and bleed­ing from a head wound, ac­cord­ing to a po­lice re­port.

Author­i­ties took him to a hos­pi­tal, where he was pro­nounced dead at 7:42 that morn­ing.

Po­lice have not an­nounced an ar­rest in the case or ex­plained a mo­tive, al­though they said the Toy­ota Camry So­lara he was driv­ing was stolen fol­low­ing the shoot­ing.

On Thurs­day night, more than 100 peo­ple gath­ered to mourn Alexan­der, who lived with his mother and went to school in Prince Ge­orge’s County, where he grad­u­ated from Suit­land High School in 2000. He also spent much of his time with his fa­ther’s fam­ily in the Wood­land area, where he was known as “Dewey” or “Lil Dewey.”

His fam­ily re­mem­bered a man who worked two jobs to help pro­vide for his chil­dren. Out­side of his fam­ily, Alexan­der’s pas­sion was sports, es­pe­cially the Dal­las Cow­boys. And he was “a true, laid-back North Carolina Tar Heels fan,” his mother said.

He loved go-go mu­sic and spend­ing time around fam­ily and friends, es­pe­cially in South­east. Alexan­der did con­struc­tion work for a win­dow com­pany and was an Au­toZone cashier.

“He re­ally, re­ally loved this com­mu­nity. I think what he saw was the good in his com­mu­nity, from the peo­ple that he loved,” Latese Alexan­der said. “It just sad­dens me he got killed in a com­mu­nity he re­ally, re­ally loved.”

Be­fore his killing, Delonta Alexan­der mourned the death of his 10-year-old brother, the loss of his clos­est grand­mother and also a step­fa­ther, his mother said.

“He was car­ry­ing around a heavy heart, but you would never know it,” she said.

At the vigil, fam­ily and friends held blue bal­loons in the shades of his fa­vorite teams. His mother and the moth­ers of his chil­dren said they seek an­swers and jus­tice.

“If you find some­thing out, if you know some­thing, man, say some­thing. You know, be for real,” said Ta­mara Coln, the mother of Alexan­der’s daugh­ter, Tianna, and 4-year-old son, Bren­den.

The women clos­est to him were also left won­der­ing how to fill the void brought by the death of a man they con­sid­ered an awe­some dad, and how to raise three chil­dren in deep mourn­ing.

Key­onna McDuffie, the mother of 5-year-old Delonta Jr., called Alexan­der “a very lov­able per­son” who was drawn to kids and qual­ity time with his fam­ily, she said.

Now she is try­ing to fig­ure out how to help his name­sake cope.

“We are go­ing to be miss­ing a fa­ther. Right now my son is ask­ing what is the num­ber to heaven, so he can call his daddy,” McDuffie said.

As the vigil con­cluded, mourn­ers re­leased dozens of bal­loons into the dark sky, and his chil­dren all cried, “Daddy.”

His daugh­ter put her teary face into her grand­mother’s arms, cry­ing, “They took my daddy, they took my daddy!”

Latese Alexan­der hugged her deeply, with the only an­swer she could muster, “I know, baby girl, I know. But it’s okay. He’s with God.”

FAM­ILY PHOTO

Delonta Alexan­der, 34, was shot in South­east Wash­ing­ton on March 4. He died in a hos­pi­tal later that morn­ing.

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