Teen slain 3 years ago remembered at vigil

By Stewart Bishop
Globe Correspondent / October 5, 2010

Relatives described Steven Odom as a spirited and gifted young man who loved his family and community.

Family and friends of a 13-year-old shot to death three years ago gathered for a vigil in his honor on a Dorchester street last night and to remember the eighth-grader who touched so many of their lives.

Steven Odom was shot in the head as he walked home from playing basketball with friends in Dorchester in October 2007, the unintended target of what police have called a gang shooting.

About 100 people stood huddled together for a vigil on Evans Street as Odom’s family spoke about Steven and the need to address the cycle of violence that plagues the community.

“It was three years ago around this time [that] Steven P. Odom’s life was taken through the senseless violence and crime that has gone on in our community,’’ Steven’s father, the Rev. Ronald Odom Sr., said last night. “But we are here today standing strong to let the world and community know that this is it. We are here no longer divided. We’re unified.

“Steven has left us a legacy and a mission and a charge we have to keep. His life represented peace.’’

Steven’s relatives led the crowd in prayer and in song. Many of the mourners wore purple shirts with Steven’s face on the front and the words “Peace begins with me’’ on the back.

His mother, the Rev. Kim Odom, spoke of the recent shooting victims in Mattapan and of the need for the community to come together and identify the root causes of violence.

“I want everybody here to remember those who lost their lives in Mattapan,’’ she said. “Please remember their families. Oftentimes we see when another violent tragedy has occurred, it just numbs you again.

“I have purposed in my heart that Steven’s life does not end on this sidewalk and to make sure that the root cause of what took his life gets addressed.’’

Nearby a makeshift memorial was set up with pictures of Steven playing the drums and several of him at James P. Timilty Middle School.

Relatives remembered Steven as a spirited and gifted young man who loved his family and community.

“He was a funny kid who was full of life and loved playing the drums,’’ said his cousin Jennifer Gregory, 29, of Dorchester. “I remember picking on him mostly, my little cousin. I just miss him.’’

City Councilor Charles C. Yancey, who was in attendance, said more must be done to combat street violence.

“We can do more and we must do more to make a serious difference,’’ Yancey said. “Let’s get some more street workers and youth workers on the street. Let’s reopen some community centers.’’

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