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December 3, 2010

Buried in his Ravens jersey

We didn't write a lot about Patrick Dolan's death.

Sometimes, death on city streets seems overwhelming, and one slips by. I spoke to Patrick's family and friends over the past few days and found yet another sorrowful tale of a life snuffed out too soon on a Baltimore street.

Patrick lived in Pennsylvania but he grew up in Hampden and spent 17 of his 19 years in the Baltimore area. He attended Archbishop Curley High School and his grandmother lives on 34th Street. His extended family is one big Ravens booster club.

And that's how I discovered we needed to write more about Patrick. (See story in Crime Scenes) His cousin is co-founder of a Ravens booster club called West Wing, which put up a tribute page to the victim on their Purple Chaos website. A friend who knew the Ravens Lardarius Webb got him to sign a game ball and dedicate the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game to Patrick.

The family buried Patrick in his No. 21 Lardarius Webb jersey and mourners attended a viewing in Hampden wearing Ravens clothes. Patrick was stabbed the morning of Nov. 30 after he got off a bus in Belair Edison and was approached by a man who asked for change. As Patrick took out his wallet, police said the man grabbed it. Patrick fought back and was stabbed.

He was the city's 200th homicide victim this year.

I spoke to Patrick's mother and cousins, who shared countless stories about a young man shouted  to anyone he saw wearing a Ravens jersey, once declined to attend a Ray Lewis autograph session because what he really wanted was for Lewis to tackle him, and how he cared for his sick little sister who still wonders why her big brother doesn't meet her at the school bus.

Webb's mother told me the football signed by Webb means everything to her family, and they have it on display in their Dover, Pa. home. I spoke with Webb on Thursday after practice and he told me he couldn't believe a fan was buried in his jersey:

“It got to me. I didn’t know whether to be scared, sad, happy, that he was being buried in my jersey. It was something new to me. … For the family, I hope this can lift them up in any way possible, to help them move on.”

Webb grew up in a small town in Alabama and he said violence there is nothing compared to what he's seen in this city since arriving two years ago. Here is some more from his interview: 

“All I knew was the Baltimore Ravens and it’s a bad town. It’s a bad city. … At least where I stay, it’s not as bad as I think, but it’s real. Life is real up there. In real life, things happen. I’m from Alabama, country, you know, we have thefts, we have murders, things happen, but not as much as happened here. It was surprising when they said 200 murder. That’s a lot of murders in one year.”

(Picture of Webb at right is by The Sun's Gene Sweeney Jr.)

 “It’s TV. It’s what I’ve always seen on TV. Unreal. I went out Thanksgiving and passed out some stuff, and did autograph signings. I’ve went to schools and talked. I’ve been to the areas where it don’t look like nothing is, where it looks like The Wire. And it’s just unreal. But looking at how kids make it from these cities, you know, at least when I ride through, I don’t see where they can play at. I’m from the country where we have a big back yard. We have a big front yard. A lot of areas you can play in, it’s the country. Up here, it seems all they have is sidewalk and the road. And you have junkies on the corner. I’m like, man, how do they make it? How do they get over this. But they do.”

“We had this, we had drugs, but it wasn’t as big as here, where they have big drugs. We had normal — they smoked weed. Up here they have so much and so many and so different stuff. There’s so many ways for kids to get into trouble here.”

“Police are on every corner. When you go downtown, there’s not just one police on the corner, they got their friends chilling on the corner, on every corner. But it’s good. People can go and have a great time and not worry about getting robbed.”

“You know, some places in Baltimore are not that bad. You know, the Owings Mills area, the Towson area. There are certain areas when you can go have a great time and you don’t have to worry.”

Posted by Peter Hermann at 1:10 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Confronting crime, Northeast Baltimore

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About Peter Hermann
Peter Hermann started covering news for The Baltimore Sun in 1990, first in Anne Arundel County and, starting in 1994, reporting on the Baltimore Police Department. In 2001, he was assigned to Jerusalem as the Baltimore Sun's Middle East correspondent. He returned in 2005 as an assistant city editor overseeing crime coverage. In 2008, Peter returned to the beat as a daily reporter and blogger. A recent BBC report featured him in a segment on the harsh realities of covering crime in Baltimore.

Coverage will focus on crime trends, problems in neighborhoods in the city and elsewhere, profiles of victims and police officers and try to offer readers a fresh perspective on one of the most vexing issues facing Baltimore and its future.

Contributing to this blog is Justin Fenton, who joined The Sun in 2005 and has covered the Baltimore City Police Department and the criminal justice system since 2008. His work includes an investigation into Cal Ripken Jr.’s minor league baseball stadium deal with his hometown of Aberdeen, a three-part series chronicling a ruthless con woman, coverage of the killing of five Amish children at a schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pa., and a job swap with a British crime reporter to explore differences in crime-fighting. A special report looking into how city police handle rape cases led to sweeping reforms that changed the way sexual assaults are investigated in Baltimore. He was recognized as the best reporter in Baltimore by the City Paper in 2010 and by Baltimore Magazine in 2011.

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