HYDE PARK – Xavier Usanga, 7, missed the first day of school on Tuesday.
He was the latest child under the age of 17 to be shot and killed in St. Louis this year.
The scenario of his shooting death on Monday was familiar. He was standing near another person (an 18-year-old who was shot, but survived). Police had no suspects, and no immediate arrest was made.
Two days later, police said they had someone in custody. They provided no specifics on Wednesday, saying the investigation – like the others – was continuing.
His father, Ifiok Usanga, said he believed the person or persons responsible lived nearby.
“The people across the way killed my baby,” he said, stopping short of saying exactly who. “They look me right in my face after they done shot my son.”
Usanga said he believed that justice would be served – and for him that means the death penalty for the perpetrators.
“You gotta put the death penalty on all these baby-killings, accidental or not, because they gotta know they can’t just go unscathed,” he said. “These little young bastards are killing with the same gun,” he said, calling them serial killers.
Usanga, who was lying in bed in when he heard the shots, said that he heard shots every day, which is why he didn’t and doesn’t let his children venture off in the neighborhood.
Xavier’s older sister Trinity said that she and her brother had been excited and nervous about the upcoming first day of school (which was Tuesday, the day after Xavier was killed).
On Tuesday, she was even more nervous, sad – and absent from school.
“I didn’t feel like going to school today, because me and Xavier talked while walking to school and now he’s not even here with me,” she said.
Neighbors, friends and strangers stopped by to offer their condolences and support. After school, Angel, another of Xavier’s sisters, got a visit from one of her schoolmates. They embraced on the site, grimacing with grief.
“It’s tough for these babies,” said Shellie Boaze, who said she showed up every time she heard about a young person being killed. “I gotta watch more babies break down, traumatized by these events.
“We’re all traumatized, it’s just too much. I think St. Louis is going to be a ghost town sooner or later: Ain’t nobody gonna want to be down here, they gon’ bail and ain’t nobody gonna want to come to St. Louis,” Boaze said.
The Rev. Darryl Gray stopped by and talked with Xavier’s sisters. He had spent time with them and Xavier at a nearby park camping outing put on by Third Ward Alderman Brandon Bosley. The family lives in the same gunshot-ridden neighborhood that prompted the frustrated alderman to ask that the National Guard be deployed.
“We’re living in a culture and a society in this city where all we see is hate and self-hate,” Gray said. “We hate ourselves, therefore we hate others. We don’t value ourselves, therefore we don’t value others, and that’s why Xavier is dead,” he said.
“We have ceased to value human life in this city, especially the lives of our children … and until the community turns its back on killers – even if they are our blood – we’re going to continue to have children dying in our streets.”
The city’s mayor, Lyda Krewson, took to Facebook Tuesday, posting that she was “sick and outraged” and urging people to give information to police for the solving of the crimes. Later in the post, regarding the police, she wrote, “We ask them to do everything,” pointing out the many duties that come with being a police officer.
She fell short of a solution to the spiked gun violence in her city, but wrote, “We also need & have Prevention & Intervention – summer jobs & training, p-ship w/ @bflfamily , afford housing, removing vacant bldgs – and soon a national violence prevention program.”
Meanwhile, in the city, murderers are on the lose. And they’re killing kids.