A 2018 video interview with Anthony Denico Williams. Courtesy of InvidiblePeople.TV

Family and friends filled the pews of The House of Praise in the Deanwood neighborhood on Feb. 13 to celebrate the life of Anthony Denico Williams. He died on Jan 26. in an altercation over a sale of K2, a synthetic form of marijuana, at Union Station. This April would have been his 21st birthday. 

According to court documents, Williams refused to sell to Angel Moses because she owed him $5 from a previous transaction. In response, Moses stabbed Williams around his left shoulder, passed the knife off to a man nearby, and fled the Metro platform where the altercation occurred. While Moses said Williams got in her face and taunted her, security footage shows him not reacting aggressively to her threatening advances, according to the court records. 

Markkee Coleman, 21, one of Williams’ close friends at Kingsman Academy, said Williams was like a brother to him and someone who would give you the shirt from his back. “I don’t know why anybody would hurt somebody like that,” said Coleman, who previously worked as a Street Sense Media intern. 

Williams started experiencing homelessness shortly after his mother, Denice Williams, died of colon cancer in 2016. He remained without housing until his death according to his childhood friend, Tahlibrah Magruder, 20. “When his mother passed, that’s when a lot of stuff started really going downhill for him,” Magruder said.  

Coleman said he would go down to Union Station to see Williams, and the last time he saw his friend, a couple of days before he died, Williams seemed to be doing well. They didn’t talk much about his being homeless, but Coleman would often ask if he had a job. “He’d say ‘I’ve been looking, I’ve been looking,’” Coleman said. 

Coleman also remembered Williams’ smile which could light up a room, a sentiment echoed by members of his family during a portion of the service in which those in attendance were invited to share memories of Williams, who many knew as Nico or Smurda. Friends also spoke about Williams’ ability to turn a bad day around and dedication to having a good time. Magruder talked about a recent birthday when she was feeling sad about not having plans. “He just popped up, talking to me, making me forget about everything that was going on. I just remember him saying, “It’s your birthday. Why are you not turning up?” 

This selflessness was who Williams was, Magruder said. “The one thing I will never forget about him is he was always there for everybody. It didn’t matter what he was going through, how he was feeling. And he was going through a lot.” 

Williams loved spending time with friends, as well as playing football and dancing, according to friends and family. The program distributed at the service said many were holding Williams in their hearts. “Cherishing his memories are father and one sibling, and a host of aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandfather, and other relatives and friends, as well as his homeless family he embraced,” the program read.  

A funeral service program which includes photos of a young black man in a hoodie and his name and details about the funeral and viewing

Friends and family gathered at The House of Praise Feb. 13 for a viewing and service. Photo by Julia Pinney

Williams previously received media attention in 2018 when Grace McKinnon, a licensed social worker in the district, videoed a confrontation he had with U.S. Capitol Police near Union Station. The officers had Williams at gunpoint and were ordering him to get on the ground. McKinnon videoed while calming Williams down. “Just get on the ground, bruh. Hey bruh, just get on the ground. Don’t die, this is not worth dying for,” she can be heard saying to Williams in the video.

In a Jan 27. Interview with WUSA9, McKinnon commented on the tragedy of Williams dying so young. “He still had this whole life ahead of him. For it to end like this, I don’t know if there’s meaning in that.” 

Williams talked about his dreams for the future in a March 2018 interview with the organization, Invisible People. Along with a nice job and a roof over his head, he hoped to be in a position to give back to others. Williams described the home he wanted to open for adults and kids who had nowhere to go, and the recreation center he would form to provide after school programming and job support.  

Magruder felt similarly about Williams dying so young, as she reflected upon seeing his face for the last time as he laid in an open casket. 

“Seeing him here today really hurts. We used to talk about what he wanted to do, he don’t get to do that.”