By Charles Hallman
Using a bullhorn brought by K.G. Wilson of Hope Ministries, 17-year-old Nehemiah Steverson’s stepmother Nekisha Bowman pleaded to the gathering outside their North Minneapolis home Monday, “If you know something, you need to go to the police and do what’s right. My kids are suffering.”
Steverson, an Edison High School junior, died Sunday at a local hospital. He was shot and found lying on a Northside street around 1 am Sunday morning, said Minneapolis Police Inspector Mike Kjos, who told the MSR Monday evening that the case remains under investigation.
“There hasn’t been anything put out publicly,” said Kjos.
Bowman said during Monday’s one-hour street vigil organized by Wilson that Steverson “didn’t deserve what he went through. Nobody’s perfect, [but] he was a good boy. He was the best brother my kids could ever have. Whoever did this to my baby deserves to be behind bars. Tell somebody — tell the Fourth Precinct.”
“I miss my brother,” added a tearful Randy Donnerson II. “He was the only big brother that I had. He took me [places].”
According to Steverson’s father, Randy Donnerson, the police told him on Monday that they have “a couple of leads,” but as of press time no arrest has been made. He spoke exclusively to the MSR during the outdoor vigil and talked about the last time he saw his oldest son last Saturday.
“It was the night of my birthday, and my son was with me earlier,” recalled Donnerson. “He spent a couple of hours with me. We always joked around and laughed. But it started raining real bad, so we said let’s put it off [a scheduled barbecue] until tomorrow [Sunday]. So my son left with one of his friends.”
Donnerson said he has since talked to his late son’s friend. “He said he dropped him off somewhere here in the area. I got the news the next day — I woke up with my phone off. I turned my phone on and I had 51 missed calls. I knew something was wrong then.”
Asked if Steverson perhaps was involved in any negative activities, Donnerson noted he didn’t sense any trouble last weekend. “I am always on my son about doing right from wrong,” reported the father. “He got into mischief here and there, but he was a good kid. Everybody loved him, and he respected everybody. I really can’t envision my son getting involved in something for someone to shoot him. I don’t think my son is a criminal, a crook, or anything like that. I’m shocked.”
“As a community we are once again diminished by the senseless death of one of our own,” said Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges in a released statement. “As a people we cannot tolerate senseless violence. One death is too many and certainly Nehemiah’s death is too many. I am working with MPD to find those responsible for this death.”
A mother of seven who lives a couple of blocks from Steverson also talked to the MSR on the condition that her identity not be revealed. “When [my children] showed me his picture on Facebook, [I said] that young guy has been at my house,” she recalled. “I didn’t know him, [but] my kids were telling me he was good and wasn’t in any gang. He came around my house before with other kids.
“There’s too much killing going on around here,” she pointed out. “I’m really scared because I have teenage boys. My oldest child got killed [seven years ago], and I understand what they are going through. It’s a hurting feeling.”
“Another brother lost. It’s sad,” said a 20-year-old young man.
“I’m unclear about a lot of things,” said Donnerson.
Bowman emphatically told the crowd that she and the rest of the family don’t want to see people wearing T-shirts with her stepson’s likeness on them at his funeral, for which arrangements remained incomplete at press time. “I am not his blood mother but his second mother. You are more than welcome to wear that on your own time, but…his mother has asked that nobody come to our son’s funeral wearing his photograph. We are asking that you respect our wishes.”
Wilson said afterwards, “That’s backwards to be out here having vigils for children who are old enough to be our grandkids. This isn’t about some political thing — it’s about us saving our babies.”
“I love my son so much. I didn’t think he would leave this world like this,” said Donnerson. “It’s a tragedy, and I haven’t slept since it happened.”
More photos from the Nehemiah Steverson vigil
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.