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The Gang's All Here

A late-summer confrontation leaves two families grieving.

On the last Saturday in June, eighteen-year-old Timothy Kemp was headed home after a visit to Six Flags Elitch Gardens. It was Gay Pride weekend, and the bus he usually caught at 16th and Broadway had been rerouted to Colfax and Logan. That shady corner was hopping at 11 p.m., when Kemp joined a crowd of would-be passengers, drug dealers, junkies and prostitutes.

Kemp leaned against the wall of a liquor store, keeping to himself. He'd spotted ten Crips around the corner. One, who knew Kemp from the basketball court, stepped up and asked him to turn his hat around. Kemp was wearing a cap on which he'd branded the initials "CK" -- C for Crip, K for Killer. Crip Killer.

Kemp obliged.

As the bus pulled up, Ronnelle Murrell put his beer on the sidewalk and started spitting Crip-speak. "Hey, cuz," he said. "Take off your hat. What's up with the CK?"

"Fuck you. It's all about the CK," Kemp replied, according to police reports.

Twenty-six-year-old Murrell was four inches taller and more than a hundred pounds heavier than Kemp; he'd run the streets a lot longer. But Kemp was still willing to take him on, he says -- until he thought he saw Murrell reach for a piece.

In Kemp's pants was the .22-caliber pistol he packed for situations like this. "All I was thinking when he reached is, it's him or me," Kemp remembers. "If he wanted to fight me, he would've swung."

The first shotKemp fired hit Murrell high in the back. The second stuck in the wall of the liquor store. Murrell stumbled into the store, asking for an ambulance. Kemp took off northbound on Logan, holding his pants up with one hand as he hustled along the bushes on the west side of the church.


Timothy Kemp had shot someone before: his younger sister, then a fifteen-year-old track star. She and a friend were painting their fingernails in her bedroom. Kemp, who'd been drinking Hennessey, was sitting by the bed, playing with his 9-millimeter handgun. It went off and hit his sister in the calf.

The girls tried to stay calm and called a friend for a ride to the hospital. Kemp punched a hole through the wall, then put the 9mm on a table by his sister. "Shoot me," he said. "It's an eye for an eye."

But she didn't want revenge -- just a doctor.

Kemp wound up with two years' probation for that shooting. Before then, his life had been school, work and family, since he had to be the man of the house. But now the pressure got to be too much to bear, he says, and he quit the Life Skills Center, where he'd been going to school. His mother began searching his room regularly, so he kept his weapons away from the house. He'd worn red before, but he started wearing a lot more. A red bandanna hung like a flag in his bedroom; someone hung a burned red bandanna on the door of their Aurora apartment.

Earlier this year, a few months after the shooting, Kemp had a run-in with police; he calls it "harassment."

The family had lived in Park Hill from 1997 through 1999; this past summer, Kemp tattooed "Park" on the underside of his right forearm and "Hill" on the underside of his left, to represent his hood. The tats were Blood red.

Murrell wasn't an angel, either. His father was a thief who "would steal the blink off your eye," according to his mother, Damita Murrell. By the time Murrell was twelve, Damita was dating a drug dealer. When Murrell asked him for $20, the man handed him a sack of crack rocks instead.

"Don't be begging me for money; extend your hustle," he told the youngster. Murrell's mother never had to buy her son clothes, shoes or anything else ever again.

Murrell was a talented artist, but he dropped out of art school because his friends said it was sissy shit. He got jumped into a Crip set and learned how to dish out an ass- whupping and how to take one. Although there was a falling-out in his set, he continued to represent Crips. When he was fifteen, he accidentally shot himself with a Saturday-night special he'd picked up from a friend. A few years later, he went into a room with a girl and came out with a bullet in his shoulder. He said he'd shot himself again; his mother thinks he may have taken a fall for the girl.

He was shot at several other times but never hit. "I was dodging bullets like the Matrix," he once told his mother after one episode. "The Lord ain't ready for me yet."

Murrell making it to eighteen was a big deal for his mother. Then 21, then 25. Every birthday was like he'd beaten some fatal disease. And in a way, he had: Street life was deadly. Murrell was still dealing drugs, although his mother said he had a conscience that wouldn't allow him to sell to people who looked like they needed to get off the pipe, or if he knew they had kids to feed.

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3 comments
beelalee
beelalee

@murrellepĀ this is his first daughter .. so wassup bcuz im most deffentily out here Sklobbk Bkashin For Dad My Nigga Lets Make Sum Shit Cracc Off Find Me onĀ  FaceBook Ladie Turnt'Up

murrellep
murrellep

R.I.P daddy man I want revenge on dem slob as niggas man Ik u wouldve shot that buster as nigga if u wanted to scary azz slob nigga Your first son man !

 
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