Saturday, May 31, 2008

Another Bullet Ends Dream in a Dangerous Land

by Robert Gavin, Cathleen F. Crowley, and Jordan Carleo-Evan Gel
Albany Times Union
May 31, 2008

Last week, Kathina Thomas attended Sunday school for the first time at Blessed Hope Worship Center on Central Avenue. She liked it so much she stayed for the 11 a.m. service.

It was in the church that the 10-year-old girl began the last 24 hours of her life, at a women's night on Wednesday alongside Roxanne Fraser, a friend from her family's native Guyana in South America.

Had Fraser known what lay ahead, she said she would have made sure Kathina came to church Thursday, too. That night, a stray .45 caliber bullet tore through the child's back as she played in front of her First Street home.

"She said 'Mommy, I got shot in my back.' She fell toward me and I held her," Kathina's devastated mother, Shondell McAllister, said Friday, speaking from her mother's steps on Clinton Avenue.

Calm, yet still struggling to speak about her daughter, a fourth-grader at Sheridan Preparatory Academy, McCallister said she was too scared to return home to First Street. She called for help when her daughter was shot, but said no one on the street offered any.

Sixteen months ago, Kathina's family moved from Guyana to Albany in part because of the opportunities an American education would give her.

But the child died at Albany Medical Center Hospital shortly after the 8:20 p.m. shooting.

"There's more opportunity over here," said her 18-year-old brother, George Yhap. "But it's more dangerous, too. This place is so big. ... You know your neighbor and stuff in Guyana, but over here you don't even know your neighbor."

Read more here.

Copyright 2008 Capital Newspapers Division of The Hearst Corporation

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