An interesting twist to what authorities in suburban Maryland initially believed was a typical gang murder. Two members the Bloods street gang are charged with first-degree murder in the death of a fellow gang member ... whom they believed was gay.
Eighteen-year-old Steven Hollis of Randallstown and 17-year-old Juan Flythe of West Baltimore were arrested Thursday. They are charged with fatally stabbing and stomping 18-year-old Steven Parrish—seen above in a MySpace tribute—of Woodlawn on May 29. That was only one day before his graduation from Randallstown High School. Apparently, text messages and cell phone photos lead the fellow gang members to discover Parrish's secret. Parrish's slaying was quite grisly to send a message their gang was not "weak." Excellent reporting at the Baltimore Sun:
On the day before Parrish's death, several members of the gang met at his home, according to charging documents. There, Hollis and Flythe discussed finding what they believed to be "gay" text messages on Parrish's cell phone.
Angered by the messages and a photograph they found, they worried that their Bloods group would appear weak to others if word got out that they had a gay member, according to court records.
"As a result, they decided that Steven Parrish 'had to go,'" police wrote in charging documents. "There was no date or time discussed for the killing, but it was made very clear to all those present that Parrish was going to be killed."
Flythe later told his fellow gang members that he and Hollis confronted Parrish, who did not deny that the messages were "gay" in nature, according to court records. Flythe also told his associates that they stabbed and hit the victim before stomping on his neck, according to charging documents. A red bandanna was placed over Parrish's face and he was left in the woods.
WBAL-TV reports Hollis and Flythe are being held without bail. And if stabbing the body up to 50 times wasn't horrific enough, another gruesome detail: The body was dumped in a wooded location behind the family home. "It’s rough," Parrish’s father, also named Steven, told reporters. "Especially when it happens right by your house like this." A reporter at The Sun tells Rod 2.0 the Parrishes have moved from the area.
Steven Parrish's MySpace page has been disabled but one schoolmate at Randallstown High School has posted an online tribute. The pictures show a lean, handsome and stylish young man, but, with a hard look in his eyes. The visitors lament Steven's death and street gang culture. "It's ashamed that he won't be able to graduate," Steven's friend writes. "Go off to college, or do whatever he planned on doing after high school because of involvement in a gang."
It's difficult to process the correct emotions to mourn the death of a gang member, who ostensibly was himself involved in violence. But it is sad, tragic and devastating that Steven Parish's sexuality was the reason fellow gang members turned on him. However, it is also worth noting that the predominant message from black popular culture and the black church is that being gay, as the gang members said, is not to be tolerated. Possibly this is the reason why Steven Parrish thought he needed the gang's street cred, to reinforce his masculinity. Tragic on all levels.