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Family copes with violence and death



Published: Fri, June 8, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



By PATRICIA MEADE

VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- As members of the Scott family talked about losing a loved one to gunfire, a photographer distracted 2-year-old Ke'asia Wagner by calling her "cookie mouth."

She twisted in her mother's lap, swallowed the cookie, and grinned.

"If you ask where her daddy's at, she says he's gone to the store," Twelvena Scott, the child's great-grandmother, said from a chair on her Tod Avenue porch. "She's so young -- I hope she doesn't forget him."

Ke'asia's father, 19-year-old Alexander Scott Jr., died Wednesday after an argument and shootout on the North Side. His cousin, Stefon Breedlove, 17, and one of the boys they fought with, Vandy Bryant, 17, remain hospitalized.

Twelvena Scott -- who gave a smile instead of her age -- reared Alexander from the time he was 10 months old. She and everyone else called him Big Dude.

He'd been shot before, but this time was different. She left the room when the doctor said he wouldn't make it.

"Other people may have other opinions, but to me, he was real nice -- do anything to help. He was real smart and could fix anything electrical," she said, looking away to regain her composure. "It's just so hard."

She last saw her grandson not long before the shooting. He, Breedlove and their friend, Jimmy Allen, left together and headed up Tod Avenue.

Related or not: Scott doesn't know if her house's getting shot up last Sunday had anything to do with what happened at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday on Benita Avenue near The Rayen School. She pointed to five bullet holes in the aluminum door.

"These young men -- why do they come and shoot at the house? They don't know if there might be little kids in the house," Scott said. "They don't care."

There were children in the house at the time, right by the door. The bullets ripped through the storm door glass and shattered Scott's mother's picture.

Others before him: Over the years, the extended Scott family has had its brushes with the law and Alexander Scott is the third to die by gunfire. Twelvena -- and the others who sat and talked on her porch -- think police don't like the Scott family.

The sound of a phone ringing interrupted their conversations. People kept calling to offer condolences.

Geraldine Bryant didn't call but still expressed shock and sympathy at her Roslyn Avenue home.

"My heart goes out to that dead boy's family," she said. "It could have been my son who died. I'm at a loss for words. I have no answers."

Vandy Bryant told his 40-year-old mother that he had argued with one of the young men involved in the shooting. You don't know what your children are capable of, she said.

Scott said that when she spoke to Breedlove at the hospital, he told her that his cousin had tried to stop the argument by saying "let it go."

Capt. Robert Kane, chief of detectives, said Vandy Bryant and Derrick Jones, 16, of Lauderdale and Mistletoe avenues had been on the porch of 279 Benita before the shootout began.

The others involved arrived in a beat-up red Ford car.

After questioning, police took Jones to the juvenile justice center on a parole violation.

Still looking: Kane said Thursday that detectives have more witness interviews to do. One of the suspects who arrived by car with Scott and Breedlove remained at large.

Tom Lomax, who lives next door to 279 Benita, had heard the kids on his neighbor's porch yell "they're strapped!" A fight followed and then deafening gunshots, with at least one boy on the porch returning fire, he said.

meade@vindy.com




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