The Gang's All Here

A late-summer confrontation leaves two families grieving.


When the cops arrived at the liquor store, Murrell was on the verge of shock. He was also holding a sack of rocks. While they waited for the ambulance, he told a police officer that the shooter had forced the crack on him with an order to sell it, so he could pay off a debt. When he refused, Murrell said, the shooter pulled the trigger.

Murrell's mother and grandmother met him at the hospital. "It's going to take more than one bullet to take out the OG," he told them.

Murrell was rushed into open-heart surgery, which was followed by a second operation. He was fighting hard, but even if he made it, he'd have a long road to recovery. Doctors told his mother that he would have to learn to walk and talk all over again. Before he went in for a third operation a few hours after the shooting, his mother put her hand inside his unconscious fingers. "You're not a punk," she told him. "You fought a good fight, baby, but you lost this one. Don't fight for me; don't fight for your brothers."

Damita knew that her son wouldn't come out of that final operation. Ronnelle Murrell made it to age 26.

While Murrell was dying, Timothy Kemp was walking the streets of Park Hill. He didn't think he'd killed anybody. If he'd wanted to kill someone, he would have emptied the entire clip, he says. All he wanted to do was create enough of a disturbance to get the hell out of there.

Two days later, the Denver Police Department announced that it was cleaning up Capitol Hill; ground zero was a vacant lot three blocks from where Murrell had been shot. Both Damita Murrell and the Reverend Leon Kelly kept a close eye on the media for news of the killing, but they never saw a word reported. The DPD counts Murrell's death as one of five gang-related murders this year.

Kemp eventually made his way home. That's where he was a few days later when he and his sister noticed the police outside, obviously looking for someone. Kemp didn't even consider that it might be him. He walked outside with his mother, and the cops asked for his name. "That's my son, Timothy Kemp," his mother said.

Out came the handcuffs. The police said they had a warrant. Figuring there must be some mistake, his mother asked what the warrant was for. One of the officers leaned over and whispered: "Murder."

DeShawna Moore, Kemp's sweetheart since they met at Bible study in the seventh grade, was raised in a Christian environment and taught to frown upon gangs. As Kemp started showing more symptoms, she tried to distance herself, but she loved him too much to let go. She bought him a suit so that he could go to church with her. Now she's paying for his defense attorney.

Kemp says Murrell's story about the crack was bullshit, and since he'd never met him before, there's no way the murder could have been planned. He says he acted in self-defense because Murrell reached for a gun, which the police never found.

Moore agrees that Kemp shot Murrell in self-defense. She believes that no sane jury could convict Kemp of the first-degree murder he's charged with, because first-degree murder means premeditated. And a first-degree-murder conviction means life in prison without parole.

Damita Murrell wishes her son was still here, but she knows why he's gone. "I'd always told Ronnelle, 'One day you're going to run up on the wrong one,'" she says. "And I feel sorry for Kemp's family, because that's two lives lost. And I also feel sorry for his mother, because I often thought I'd be in her shoes with Ronnelle."

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1 comments
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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