Photo of red sun
A haunting red sun. Photo courtesy of Bruunofischer.

Karl Jackson was my friend and classmate at Our Saviour Lutheran School where I grew up in the Bronx. He was the son of a nurse and a postal worker and went on to become a computer programmer at Morgan Stanely.

My former classmate was murdered on Halloween night in 1998. He was 21. I was living in the D.C. area by that time, but I attended the funeral.

You can read all about the murder in the New York Times article, “The Violent Legacy of a Halloween Prank.” Karl and his girlfriend, Darlene, had been driving to pick up her son, Clyde, when a  group of teenagers threw eggs at the car. Karl got out to confront them. 

Another article from November 1998 said my friend drove away after the argument but that at least one of the egg-throwers, a Brooklyn-area man, got into a car and pursued them. The police said he caught up to them and shot Karl in the head several blocks away from the first incident. The assailant was 17 when he was arrested and was sentenced to 20 years.

I’m sure Karl’s mother doesn’t want that story to ever leave the internet. It can’t bring my friend, a Black male, back. But it can preserve his memory, and remind us to be kind and be safe. There is a heartbreaking picture of Karl and his mother at the top of the article, taken on his birthday in front of a Red Lobster weeks before he was killed. 

Thinking of you, Karl. RIP.

Jemel Flemming is an artist and vendor with Street Sense.