Guests might have expected the grief etched on the faces of family and friends of 23-year-old Rashad Robinson, but an additional dimension of pain was visible Friday outside Refreshing Spring Church of God in Christ.
It was one of undirected rage and doubt about whether the person who shot Robinson would ever be caught and justice would ever be served.
Kelly Freeman hurried down Georgetta Dix Boulevard and away from the church in tears, as she struggled to catch her breath after just viewing the open casket of the young man she watched her sons grow up with.
“I knew him since he was a little boy,” said Freeman, who proclaimed herself Robinson’s “second mom.”
“My baby protected everybody. He was a loving person. He’d do anything for you. But don’t hurt anybody, don’t mess with anybody he loved, and then he was your worst nightmare.”
Close friends and family knew Robinson as “Twin” — a loving moniker given to him as a tribute to him and his twin brother Robert, said Freeman.
“I’ve always been there for him, always,” she said. “God, I just really want the person to be found. But God bless him when he goes to jail. God bless him.”
Pastor Clarence Johnson said the community was in shock since learning that Rashad had been shot to death outside Joe’s Bar and Grill one week ago, on Nov. 12 shortly after 5 a.m. With the suspect still at large, they’re not only shocked but desperate for justice.
Since Robinson’s shooting, the city’s third homicide this year and one of a handful of recent shootings, makeshift memorials have gone up on Fifth Street across from the bar. Some have signs that ask that the violence stop. Others posted at the intersection of Albany and Hulett streets, however, appear to call for retribution, with messages like “War Time Baby” and “Fire in the [expletive] hole.”
That would be the worst response, said Johnson from inside his office before Friday’s funeral service.
“Retribution, revenge — that is not what should happen now because that only stirs up more anger,” Johnson said. “It increases animosity. It causes people to wonder how far the actual respect for one another has drifted.”
The Albany Street intersection is where one of Robinson’s brothers, William Robinson, was accused of shooting Charles Taylor through the door of his car just one day after his brother’s death.
William Robinson was charged with second-degree attempted murder, second-degree criminal possession of a weapon and first-degree reckless endangerment.
Lt. Mark McCracken said Friday that the Schenectady Police Department’s investigation into Taylor’s shooting is continuing and that he didn’t want to speculate about the motive behind it.
“That investigation’s ongoing,” he said. “We’re investigating the possibility that they are connected, but that hasn’t been determined.”
The brother’s arrest was a difficult turn of events for the family, Johnson said.
“It’s very hard,” he said. “This is a double whammy for the mother; it’s a double whammy for the whole family because of the way it turned out. The members of the community are very, very upset about whatever is going on relative to this particular incident, and it just opens up wounds.”
Family and friends inside the church Friday morning exchanged whispered fears that “the authorities” might show up. Police officers were on the scene across the street Friday, patrolling as the crowd gathered.
Anguished wails pierced the church halls and lobby just prior to the start of calling hours. From the sidewalk, young kids wearing sweatshirts saying “Rest in Peace Big Brother” hugged one another, at times wiping tears from their faces.
As of Friday afternoon, police said they have no suspect or motive yet in Robinson’s shooting.
That no arrest has been made in connection with Robinson’s death made the day difficult and full of questions for those who came, said Pastor Johnson.
“It makes them wonder whether the person will ever be caught,” he said. “It makes them wonder, how can something like this happen? And then the perpetrator, how can it be that they would even think about trying to do something like this?”
For the short period of time that Johnson said he knew Robinson, he could see that Robinson was trying to change his ways: “He was trying to get things together, get his mind and his thoughts together so that he could become a better person.”
Robinson was growing as a person, he said, and had aspirations of becoming a more positive person. That was the message Johnson said he would relay to those attending Friday’s funeral.
“He was gentle with people,” Johnson said. “He liked people, especially young folk. He was interested in them changing their focus to look for more positive things. Place your mind on positive things because all of this is negativity, and when you allow negativity to take control then it generates a major problem for the person that allows it.”
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Categories: Schenectady County