A Death Too Soon

Neighborhood mourns young leader’s slaying

By Dave Scharfenberger
Contributing Writer

Mark Hooten, 15, was shot to death July 23 in South Cumminsville. His mother had dropped him off to meet up with two other youths who were going to go for a job-training program at Cincinnati State College.

Mark was one of a number of teens working for the summer as youth mentors.

“Mark was a good kid,” said Marilyn Evans, president of the South Cumminsville Community Council. “He was just your normal 15-year-old, curious and ready to go out into the world.”

The shooting took place just feet from the front door of Evans’ house.

“We have worked hard to rebuild South Cumminsville,” she says. “This definitely sets us back.”

The shooting apparently occurred after two youth exchanged words with Mark. After he turned to walk away, one of the others shot him in the back. Witnesses said the other two youths were also in their teens.

Young and old gathered on the street all day after the shooting, expressing shock, grief and anger. Residents said that there hadn’t been a shooting in their neighborhood for years. Ministers and community leaders gathered people for a vigil to give everyone an opportunity to pray, sing and support each other as they celebrated Mark’s life and mourned his death. About 100 people gathered in the parking lot of Working in Neighborhoods. The Rev. Timothy Carpenter, Pastor of W.A.E. Ministries, praised Mark for who he was. He reminded the audience that they have the ability to be lawyers, doctors and great leaders. Several ministers and organizations, including the Jesuit Claver Community and Working in Neighborhoods, pledged their support of adults and youth and encouraged the youth to believe in themselves and in the good they can do. They also said that everyone needs to stick together.

The day after shooting, one could still feel a sense of shock in the community. One teen killed another teen, expressing anger through a gun. Too many lives wasted, too many guns.

“This has to stop,” Evans said. “We have to turn this around.”