I’m sharing this tragic story from the Star Tribune, for those of you who aren’t following it already. I initially had the heading as two young African lives lost then decided to change it to one, because I didn’t want to write off the life of the shooter. I do believe that it will be hard for him to live with the consequences of his actions. My condolences to the family of the victim.
Fridley football player charged in friend’s shooting
By PAUL LEVY, Star Tribune
November 17, 2008
They were Fridley High School football players from Liberia, seemingly inseparable friends chasing their college dreams.
Now Emmanuel Bartuoh, 18, is dead, the victim of a gunshot wound to the chest Friday night. His friend and former teammate, Samuel Dennis, 20, is charged with second-degree manslaughter and could face 10 years in prison if convicted.
Two days after receiving a Rotary Club scholarship, Bartuoh talked Friday to family members about the college football teams courting him. Earlier Friday, Principal Dave Webb had walked through the lunch line with Bartuoh, “reminding him how anything seemed possible.”
Hours later, Bartuoh lay dead in the hall of his Fridley townhouse. Dennis, who called 911, told police that he didn’t know the 9-millimeter gun he had pointed at his friend was loaded and that he hadn’t meant to shoot Bartuoh.
Bartuoh and Dennis were nearly inseparable, said Webster Jah, 20, of Brooklyn Park, another Ivory Coast native who on Monday squeezed into an Anoka County courtroom, where Dennis was charged. “Emmanuel and Sam were such good friends, I thought Sam lived with him,” Jah said.
Not so, said Romanda Gaye, Bartuoh’s aunt. She said that Bartuoh, an honor student and an all-conference defensive back and kick-return specialist, had tried to distance himself from Dennis because of his “behavior.” “Emmanuel never really hung out with Sam,” Gaye said, adding: “I don’t think it was an accident.”
Fridley football coach Lambert Brown said Monday that Bartuoh was a “terrific play-maker” and that 10 to 15 Division II and Division III schools were recruiting him.
Dennis also had hopes of attending college, said Marie Fatu, 17, of Brooklyn Park, who was at Monday’s hearing. But Dennis had other concerns. Eight months ago, he became a father — a “good father,” said Winnie Yahqueh, 18, of Brooklyn Park, who said she is the baby’s mother.
According to court records, on the day of the killing, Dennis planned to use the gun to “intimidate a female” who lived near Bartuoh. Dennis was upset because she had been telling others that she was having a sexual relationship with him, the court complaint said. Dennis told police that an acquaintance from Minneapolis had left the gun in his car.
Dennis told authorities he never followed through with threatening the young woman.
Hawa Massaquoi, 16, of Brooklyn Park, who said she used to date Dennis, said she was surprised he had a weapon. “Sam could get angry quick, but never quick as in to hurt somebody,” she said.
The day he died, Bartuoh had spent time researching colleges, said his sister, Marthaline, 22, a student at Anoka Technical College. “We came here from Liberia in 1997 when my mother sent for us,” she said. “This is a dream Emmanuel had for a long, long time.”
Bartuoh was watching the high school football tournament on TV when Dennis arrived, friends and relatives at the courthouse said. Dennis was “just messin’ around” with the gun, taking out the clip and showing it off. A 7-year-old boy, a relative of Bartuoh, said Dennis commented that he “was going to kill a girl,” according to court records. When Dennis pointed the gun at the boy’s head, he told him not to worry, it wasn’t loaded.
Dennis pointed the gun at Bartuoh as a joke, he told authorities.
Anoka County Judge Barry Sullivan set bail for Dennis at $50,000. Dennis is to appear in court Dec. 11.
Here are the criminal charges