St. Louis homicide No. 49: The life behind the statistic

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by Laura Hettiger / News 4

KMOV.com

Posted on October 24, 2013 at 6:30 AM

Updated Friday, Oct 25 at 8:12 AM

(KMOV.com) – News 4 is committed to tracking crime trends and alerting people when a crime or violence happens in their neighborhood.

However, because of time constraints, cooperation from witnesses and/or family members and police investigations, it is difficult—and sometimes impossible—to report who the victim was and what the victim meant to his/her family, friends and community.

This story is different. This is the story of Kenneth Watkins. A 22-year-old father who police and friends said used to belong to a gang. A soon-to-be college graduate dedicated to escaping his past and creating a better life for his son and himself; a boy about to enter the world as a police officer.

On June 30 someone with a gun ripped those goals away from Watkins.

“They said there was nothing [the doctors] could do,” Kenneth’s mother, Angela Watkins said. “He was shot three times and he got shot in the chest. That’s what they think killed him.”

St. Louis Police label his death as 49th homicide in 2013. As of Oct. 24, there have been 90 in St. Louis; 75 of those have been by a gun.

That number continues to trend down. At the same time last year, city police had investigated 97 homicides.

Lee Barber was a classmate of the Kirkwood High School graduate at Sanford Brown College. On the surface though, Barber and Watkins seemed like an unlikely pair.

“That was one of our main connections—was the fact that we both used to be in the streets,” Barber said. “He was a Blood and I was a Crip and it was kind of weird that we were able to come together and be friends.”

The duo should have both been waking up on Thursday excited for their final college class together. Instead, it will be another day Barber is reminded of what many call the culture of gun violence in St. Louis.

“There are people dying and we need to find these people who are killing these people and bring them to justice,” Barber said. “Innocent people’s lives are being taken.”

Barber and Watkins’ mom are also reminded of how many lives the 22-year-old could have impacted as a police officer.

“I was very nervous for him especially if he was going to become a cop,” Angela Watkins said. “But he was like, ‘Mom, I’ll be okay.”

According to police, no one has been arrested in this case.

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