Summer day shattered by shooting

Tykeem Law, 14, was riding his bicycle when a driver, 18, reportedly killed him in what police suspect to be "road rage."

Posted: July 16, 2007

Tykeem Law and 10 or so of his friends made wide lazy loops with their bicycles in the streets near the Italian Market, gliding away a summer Saturday like carefree children do.

That's when, police said, 18-year-old Charles Meyers of South Philadelphia steered his car down the 900 block of Federal Street, honking and yelling for the children to get out of his way. All the boys turned toward the curb, but Law, 14, lagged behind.

Meyers pulled alongside Law. Police said the two may have exchanged words. Then, police charge, Meyers pulled out a .22-caliber revolver, reached across to the passenger side window, and fatally shot Law in the side. The homicide was the city's 220th of the year.

A police officer, driving in his own car and in plain clothes while working an overtime detail, was right behind Meyers when the shooting happened and apprehended him when Meyers crashed his car trying to escape, police said.

Police said it appeared to be "road rage." Two other men in Meyers' car, ages 21 and 33, were questioned and released.

"I love him," Law's mother Shauta McDuffie said yesterday, still speaking of him as if he would bound through the door any minute. She caught herself. "I miss him," she said.

McDuffie could not bring herself to enter the family's home in the 1600 block of South Etting Street. On the door, she posted a note so neighbors could reach her.

She said her son would frequently walk his 4-year-old brother, Syhir Manley, home from day care in the afternoons.

"He would have his homework started when I got home," she said. "I never had a problem with him."

She lamented the city's growing violence.

"What are we going to do about all these children who are dying?" she asked.

On the way home, the brothers would stop at the Morris Market to see store owner Frank Perez and his 14-year-old son, Frank Jr., who was on the same basketball team as Law at Alcorn Middle Years Academy.

"He was the best in the neighborhood," said Frank Perez, surveying the two-aisle store. He said Law did not hang out on the corners or mix with the wrong crowd.

"He would come in here and buy things for his brother. He was a good brother. Those two were never apart."

Law turned up at the store when it first opened in 1998, and he had become as familiar and refreshing there as the ice-cream freezer in front of the cash register.

"When I heard the news, it broke me down," said Cindo Cocales, 69, a store employee, who looked on as a neighborhood boy bought microwave popcorn for his little sister. "I'm still hurting."

A block away, blue ribbons drooped from handrails on the front steps of several modest rowhouses. Neighbors said they marked the places where Law sat with friends and giggled away carefree afternoons.

Neighborhood children all commented on Law's prowess on the basketball court and his gentle nature off it.

"He was cool with everyone," said Bashir Price, 17.

Across the street from Law's house, children from the block nailed a red sign to the door of an abandoned house.

"We will alwayz love ya!!" read one comment and "See you in heaven." The name of Law's basketball team, the Alcorn Eagles, holding to the margin. Below, an army of stuffed animals lined the front of the house.

"They didn't want his mother to come back here and not think that we all cared about Tykeem," said neighbor Debbie Rogers.

"I don't know what his little brother will do now that Tykeem is gone."


Contact staff writer John Sullivan at 215-854-2473 or jsullivan@phillynews.com.

Inquirer staff writer Jeff Shields contributed to this article.

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