Jermaine Washington grabbed some fast food and visited a friend at Gazebo I apartments on Pearl Street. At three this morning police were called. His sister Ieshia Wade said, "After he finished eating breakfast he walked outside and got shot." His mother, Ethel Wade points to her own face to describe the bullet's path. "In the cheek and went out the back of his head." Washington is on a respirator following a two hour brain surgery. His family remains hopeful. "He's not responding verbally. He's able to squeeze our hand. He knows we're here for him," said his sister.
Washington's blood is spattered on the complex's back parking lot that faces Banita Street. Skid marks that residents never remember seeing are close by. Detectives are pursuing leads, but have no motive or suspect identified.
This is the worst of several setbacks for a promising high school running back. Washington was arrested in 2004 for having two ounces of marijuana on campus. The teen was expelled and never continued his education. This summer, Washington was charged with a mugging. The case is pending. Family members deny any speculation of gang activity. A cousin who only wanted to be known as "Boss" said, "Jermaine? No Jermaine was into football. Being a gang banger --that's not his demeanor. People can be stereotyped because of what they wear, but you know Jermaine. I never know Jermaine to be involved in no kind of gang activity."
People stand behind the teen. His high school coach came to his bedside to provide encouragement. His family has hope Jermaine will live and begin a new life. "We still hope that he has potential in every shape, form, and fashion, but you know, just because he had done wrong -- any wrong in his past -- he still doesn't deserve to be done like this," said the former athlete's sister.