The following article is courtesy of the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle © 2001
July 2nd, 2001 Rochester Democrat & Chronicle
BY CORYDON IRELAND, Staff Writer
In games of sandlot football this summer, Tyshaun Cauldwell, age 10, played wide receiver.
He rode his bike or played with friends in his backyard pool at 11 Kondolf St. in northwest Rochester’s Dutchtown section. As of 11:12 p.m. Friday night, no more football, swimming or riding. No more friends.
Tyshaun Cauldwell, age 10 forever, is dead.
He was shot in the back of the head in a driveway at 185 Whitney St., a few quick steps from his front door, where his mother was sitting. The small frame house on Whitney, with a long narrow driveway on one side, was described by Rochester Police Chief Robert Duffy as a known drug house - one of 250 to 300 operating in the city at any one time. Just 10 minutes before the shooting, said Duffy, undercover police officers had made a drug buy at the Whitney Street house.
Witnesses and police say Tyshaun was an innocent bystander. He was straddling his bike in the driveway, leaning against a chain link fence, watching an argument over a bicycle unfold between an unidentified man and a woman.
A single shot rang out. The bullet caught Tyshaun in the back of the head. The bullet was intended for someone else. Or, more likely according to one witness, to scare someone else.
“I said, ‘Get up. I told you to go home,’ ” said Tyshaun’s sister, 16-year-old Tiara Sturgis, who witnessed the shooting. “Then I saw he was not getting up.”
At the time, Tiara was standing less than 2 feet from her brother, who had followed her a few minutes before to see what the argument was about.
“I went to grab him” after the shot, she said. “When I turned around, he fell. I said, ‘He’s not moving.’ Then everyone ran.”
That included the shooter, a young man Tiara described as a drug dealer who had been hanging around the corner of Kondolf and Whitney streets for about a month.
His street name, she said, is Swift.
“He was a nice person,” said Tiara, who had met the man last week and talked with him casually. “He clowned with my brother and my nephew.
“I don’t think he intended to do it,” she added. “But he did.”
Tiara said the man drew a revolver - “That’s the kind with the cylinder, right?” she asked - and went to fire it in the air. But during the upward sweep of the weapon, she said, it went off.
Police declined to identify the suspect.
“The circumstances are still pretty blurry,” said Duffy. “But we can’t say enough how sad it is a 10-year-old has lost his life.”
Police have talked to the woman involved in the argument. But they would not name her or characterize what she said.
Tiara described the shooter as a black man, age 19 to 21, about 6 feet, 1 inch tall, with a medium build. On his left forearm is a tattoo that says Swift. Across his abdomen, there is a tattoo with his first name, Joseph, in old English letters.
The argument drew a crowd of fewer than 10 people, said Tiara.
When the woman arguing threatened to call police, Tiara said, she heard the shooter say, “That’s how people get shot.”
“So what?”’ the woman said, according to Tiara, and turned and walked down the driveway - with everyone’s eyes on her.
Tiara said that after her brother fell to the ground, police were there in minutes. The ambulance came later. “They passed by just as (Tyshaun) passed away,” she said.
Mortally wounded from a single bullet fired from a small-caliber handgun, her brother said nothing and was not conscious, she said.
“I called the police on my cell phone,” said Tiara. “And I screamed for my mother.”
Tyshaun’s mother was 50 yards away, sitting on her front porch in the humid night air.
Yesterday, with a few friends quietly around her, Charlotte Hill talked about her son, and his death, and the world they both lived in.
Tyshaun, she said, would have been going into the fourth grade at School 17. She had held him back a year, so he could get better at reading.
He was respectful and fun and aspired to be a rapper, even though he couldn’t rap at all. “Everybody in the neighborhood loved him,” said Hill, who supervises a cleaning crew at the University of Rochester.
But Kondolf Street, a block of small houses between Whitney and Child streets, “is a rough neighborhood,” she said. “They need to do something about the killing and the drug dealing.”
Duffy said Whitney Street is one of the most active drug dealing locations in the city - all the more reason for parents nearby to keep their children close to home.
“One of the greatest dangers is to be anywhere near a drug house,” he said. “But that’s where the action seems to be. It’s a sad state of affairs.”
Undercover police investigators assigned to narcotics total 65 - the highest number ever, said Garcia.
But to stanch the busy and lucrative drug traffic in Dutchtown, said Duffy, “you would need to put a cop in every driveway and one in every house.”
Yesterday, four of Tyshaun’s friends stood in a bashful line in front of Hill. They weren’t talking much. They looked downcast and shaken. Tyshaun’s best friend, 9-year-old Rasool Muhummad, summed it up for all of them: “I wish he was still alive.”
There’s a message for everyone in her son’s death, said Hill, who has three other children, ages 27, 22 and 16. “Keep your kids close to you.” Other people, she said, “just don’t care.”
Tied to the fence where Tyshaun died was a crude poster, hand-lettered on cardboard and signed “GStyle”. It read: “Stop the killing, just the other week I saw my friend 22 yrs old get murdered I am so tired of children getting murdered. Now look what we are faced with A 10 yrs old boy shot dead Cause of what . . . Stop it now.”
Yesterday, a few dozen blocks south of Kondolf Street, on Thurston Road in the 19th Ward, Mayor William A. Johnson Jr. opened his new campaign office. There were two dozen well-wishers, free doughnuts, balloons strung along the street and a stomp dancing troupe, Baden Street Positively Female.
And there was a cloud: the death of Tyshaun Cauldwell, less than 12 hours earlier.
“That shooter should not enjoy one more day of freedom,” said Johnson. “There is no question we are going to find this person and we are going to vigorously prosecute him.”
But the shooting is one more sign that police can’t be everywhere all the time, he said.
“Parents have to take steps to ensure their children are safe,” he said. “We have to rely on parents to help.”
The following article is courtesy of the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle © 2001 July 4th, 2001 Rochester Democrat & Chronicle
BY MARK HARE, Staff Writer, Columnist
Tyshaun Cauldwell was a "ray of sunshine," says Ralph Spezio, principal of School 17, where the 10-year-old would have been a fourth-grader come September.
Friday night, Tyshaun became another casualty of the culture of drug violence that is poisoning the soul of the inner city. He was "well-mannered, well cared for," Spezio says. "He always had a smile."
At about 11 o’clock, Tyshaun was in the driveway at 185 Whitney St., a known drug house just two doors from his home on Kondolf Street.
A man and a woman began to argue over a bicycle. The woman threatened to call the police; the man raised a gun and apparently fired it accidentally.
The bullet struck Tyshaun in the back of the head. And, in just minutes, he was gone.
"I’m so tired of people saying, ‘What was a child of 10 doing outside?’ " Spezio says. "It was scalding. These houses don’t have air-conditioning. Everybody was out."
The boy’s mother was just a few yards away on her front porch; his 16-year-old sister was next to him, about to take him home.
From a safe distance, it’s simple to blame the family. But Tyshaun’s mother supervises a cleaning crew at the University of Rochester. "She’s very responsible," Spezio says. "All her children are well cared for. She owns her home."
But if you are poor in Rochester, this is the maelstrom you call home. It is astonishing to me as I travel the city how many decent, loving and determined people live amid the chaos. They are poor, but they resist the drug culture as best they can.
They keep their lives together the old-fashioned way they get jobs, they join churches and lift each other up, and they support each other’s efforts to take back their streets. They try to work with the police; they urge each other to summon the courage to blow in the dealers next door.
The good people are fighting for their lives.
"I can’t imagine living the way these families have to," Spezio says. The children walking to his school "pass by the pit bulls, they step over syringes, and they walk past prostitutes.
"This is an insidious cancer," he says. "Our society is like a body, and we’ve been invaded."
Like all the good people, Spezio longs for a more aggressive, better coordinated campaign to round up the dealers and close down the drug houses. A dead child is good reason to regroup. Protecting the innocent is the first obligation of law enforcement.
But anyone who sees drug deaths as a "city problem," the product of lax morals and lousy parenting, should think again.
There are inner-city parents who raise their children to be responsible adults, despite catastrophes that would destroy more affluent families.
Tyshaun Cauldwell did nothing wrong. In the other Rochester where people have lawns and pools and air conditioning he’d have been in the house and in bed on a hot Friday night. But he was where he was in a place where bad people think nothing of brandishing firearms to settle an argument over a bike.
The shooter must be found and punished for his recklessness and cowardice.
But responsibility does not end with him. Anyone who buys a little grass or uses cocaine on a weekend or does a little youthful experimentation with ecstasy is keeping the dealers in business and feeding the culture that took Tyshaun’s life.
The death of this child is not just a family tragedy; it is a community outrage.