Thursday, April 24, 2014 12:14 PM
Photo courtesy of PGPD. Maryland State Trooper First Class Wesley W. Brown.
Published on: Wednesday, June 16, 2010
By Tolleah Price
One by one, children lined up to sign the white, hooded sweatshirt draped across his gray Ford F-150 last weekend.
With Sharpie in hand, they professed how much they loved and missed Maryland State Trooper First Class Wesley W. Brown, 24.
“Wesley looked out for me every day. He was like a brother, like a father,” said Charles Green, 15.
The three-year veteran of the Maryland State Police and neighborhood mentor died Friday, the victim of a shooting at a popular Prince George’s County restaurant.
Photo by Tolleah Price. Neighbors decorated beloved Maryland State Trooper First Class Wesley Brown’s gray Ford F-150 Friday after he was murdered Thursday night while working as an off-duty security guard at the Forestville Applebee’s Neighborhod Grill and Bar.
Brown’s love of children led to him to pick up a part-time job working security, said his friend Leonard Bellamy, 41. He used the extra cash to fund his organization Young Men Enlightening Younger Men.
Brown, who was recently engaged, started YMEYM in 2007 at his home, with the goal of inspiring young men to stay in school and seek positive solutions to problems instead of resorting to violence.
“Without Wes, a lot of these kids around here wouldn’t have anything to do,” Bellamy said.
Friday, June 11, Brown had planned to take “his boys” on a trip to New York.
He never made it back to his Seat Pleasant neighborhood to meet up with the young men. They decided to still make the journey because Brown would have wanted them to, his friends said.
On Thursday evening, he escorted an unruly customer from Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill and Bar in Forestville.
Prince George’s County police say the man was upset over the bill.
At 12:40 a.m., police received a call about an officer shot at the restaurant on Donnell Drive.
Investigators suspect the man he escorted out, returned and shot and killed Brown in the parking lot. Brown made his way back inside the restaurant and passed out, police said.
Brown’s childhood friends said their buddy had such a laid back demeanor, they could not imagine him taking a tough tone with the man. Brown likely walked the customer outside and offered to pay the bill, they said.
“Two can eat for $20 at Applebee’s. How much could the bill have been? No matter how much, I’ll bet Wes would’ve paid that,” said friend Dexter Mason, 37.
Brown’s death left a huge void in the Seat Pleasant neighborhood. The trooper served as a role model to many children in single-parent homes, Bellamy said.
“He let kids know they could be police officers, they didn’t have to run from them,” Bellamy said.
After graduating from Crossland High School in Temple Hills, Brown enrolled at Prince George’s County Community College to pursue his dream of becoming a state trooper.
That dream came true Oct. 23, 2006, when Brown joined the Forestville Barrack. He was routinely recognized for service above and beyond the call of duty, said Maryland State Police Lt. Mark E. Darby.
“He was outstanding, he was dedicated to making Maryland safer,” said Darby, who said he was also committed to mentoring youth and started his own foundation. “All of that before the age of 25,” he said.
As a few young men huddled to share their memories of the man they affectionately called a “young pops” who mentored them.
They talked of pool parties, boxing matches and block parties Brown organized. Brown’s neighbor, Kimesha Gary, 17, said although his organization was for boys, Brown encouraged young women, too.
He always offered encouragement and made her feel safe, Gary said. When she stood alone at the bus stop some dark mornings, Brown would come outside to keep her company, Gary said.
His home was the center of the neighborhood: he had an open door policy for kids to come and talk at anytime, said his cousin Otamere Oronsaye, 26.
The memorial outside Brown’s home kept growing Friday as people learned of his death. A little girl carried a purple and pink stuffed animal almost twice her size and placed it on Brown’s truck. Others left roses and flags.
As the crowd of 20 or 30 multiplied to more than 100, the trooper’s older brother, Sylvester Brown, said he just wanted to be alone.
With tears streaming down his face, he hopped on a motorcyle and sped off. Family members chased him, pleading for him to stop. “Sylvester! Don’t do it, come back. You shouldn’t be on that thing right now,” a family member yelled.
Even more people poured into the neighborhood for the vigil.
A processional of cars came on the crowded streets in search of a parking place. Sobs and wails filled the air.
The crowd became silent with the arrival of Brown’s mother, Patricia Bell, and Seat Pleasant Mayor Eugene W. Grant.
After she composed herself, Bell told the crowd her son was “a gift from God.” She asked everyone to help keep her son’s dream alive. “Support these children because they need you,” Bell said.
As the crowd disbanded, a child clung to Sylvester Brown as he stood behind the fence at his home.
Earlier that day, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley visited Sylvester Brown’s home as well as his mother’s home, said his brother Derrick Faison, 40.
“Tragedies like this remind us all how fragile life can be, and that the men and women of our public safety agencies risk their lives on a daily basis to keep the people of our state safe,” O’Malley said.
The state of Maryland, Crime Stoppers, Prince George’s County Police and Applebee’s teamed up to offer a $75,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of Brown’s killer.
“Gone but never forgotten,” one child wrote on the white, hooded sweatshirt. His work will live on, Faison said.
“No one can fill his shoes, but we’ll step up and keep the “Y” going, we’ll still help these kids,” Faison said.
Posted By: Dana On: 6/17/2010
Title: Great article
This was a great article. It is truly sad to see the loss of such a promising young life over something as menial as a restaurant bill.