The parking lot of Parkdale High School was filled with grieving students from many schools who joined the parents and family members of 19-year-old Manuel Luis whose life of love and service tragically ended last week.
Luis was a welcomed member of the Morgan State University family from Hyattsville, Maryland, where he was a living testimony to diversity and service that began when he was a student athlete at Parkdale High School in Riverdale.
Luis’ friends offered many tearful testimonies and music in honor of a young man who loved photography, mentoring and people who needed a friend. He made a smooth transition from high school to college and according his friends on the day he died he left before sunrise so he could mentor children in Prince George’s County.
On July 11 at about 4:50 a.m. Luis was fatally shot in the 4700 block of Loch Raven Boulevard in Baltimore. In April, Kevon Dix, a 23-year-old member of the Morgan State choir, was fatally shot after leaving a friend’s house in northeast Baltimore.
At a time when hundreds of students are on the Morgan State University campus for classes, orientation, summer camps and other events, University President David Wilson wrote an open letter to Baltimore City Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young and Commissioner Michael Harrison of the Baltimore City Police Department calling for a summit to address the tide of homicides in the city.
“I am writing with a heavy heart this morning – a very heavy heart. Another Morgan student has fallen victim to the senseless violence that has engulfed our city. I have lived in Baltimore for nine years now, and rarely has there been a day where a homicide, or multiple homicides, have not occurred,” Wilson said. “I have reluctantly concluded that somehow, along the way, the majority of Baltimore’s residents might have tacitly accepted this violence as a fact of life for our city. I do not!”
Wilson, who came to Morgan in 2010, said despite investing millions of dollars and implementing many security initiatives from additional lighting to swearing in 42 police officers on a campus of nearly 8,000 students, more needs to be done.
Wilson went on to say since coming to Morgan he has installed more than 1,000 cameras, additional private security guards and dozens of other initiatives.
“It seems that the neighborhoods surrounding the campus, where many students live, have not become safer. Within the last couple of years, we have had the lives of at least three students snuffed out in these neighborhoods. This must stop!” he said.
“Accordingly, I am requesting that we take decisive action and convene a “Safety Summit,” a special meeting with you, me, the leadership of the community associations of the neighborhoods that abut the Morgan campus, and representatives of my leadership team, to discuss a strategy whereby the Baltimore Police Department, working collaboratively with our campus police, can provide greater protections to our entire campus community.”
Luis lived in the Morgan View Apartment complex and while it is technically off campus, it is a popular option for many Morgan students because it is located about two blocks from the campus. Sources say Luis was leaving early in the morning to visit his family in Riverdale when he was shot in an attempted robbery.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which is working with Baltimore Police Department detectives on the case, is offering a $5,000 reward for any information leading to an arrest.
Many Morgan students had nothing but praise for Luis but out of respect for the family they chose not to give their names or comment publicly to the media. Less than a mile from Parkdale, one his former classmates had nothing but kind words for Luis.
Brian Moore, Athletic Director at Parkdale High School told Fox 5 news last week that during his high school years Luis was always helping others. During his vigil, family and friends lit glass candles and placed them around a chair that contained his Parkdale green letterman jacket and photos.
“I think there wasn’t a day that went by that he didn’t stop by my office and say, ‘Hey Coach Moore, is there anything that I can do to help? What do you need?’ Just helpful to the nth degree,” Moore said in a TV interview. “That’s what’s so hurtful is that a kid that was always trying to do the right thing, always so helpful, that this had to happen.”