Mother’s Christmas Day tragedy: ‘My baby is gone’
Bernard Walker was a typical 16-year-old: He loved to crack jokes, hang out with his friends and wear fashionable outfits.
The 10th grader from Detroit also was getting ready for what many other teens seek: more independence.
“He was really looking forward to getting a job so he could get stuff on his own,” said his older brother, Terez Walker.
By Friday, though, his family was making funeral arrangements while Bernard Walker lay in Henry Ford Hospital, breathing on a ventilator so that his organs can be donated.
The teen was shot in the head Christmas Day while hanging out at a friend’s house in the 4100 block of Virginia Park, about three miles north of downtown.
Almost 24 hours later, he died from his injuries, the family said. His friend, a 19-year-old also from Detroit, is in custody and could face charges in the death.
“My baby is gone,” said Bernard’s mother, Theresa Culbert. “I don’t have my child no more.”
Culbert said her son was with three other friends, all teens, in the basement Thursday of a home nearby.
Detroit police initially said the group was playing with a gun when it discharged. Culbert said she believes one of the friends might have been demonstrating how he used the gun, possibly to commit a crime, and accidently shot her son.
Despite the fact that Culbert harbored concerns about her son’s friend, “I don’t believe he did it on purpose,” she said. “It was truly an accident.”
Officer Jennifer Moreno of the Detroit Police Department said the 19-year-old is in custody and charges will be sought. She said in a case like this the charge would typically be either manslaughter or second-degree murder, although it would be up to the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office to determine what is appropriate.
Walker’s friends were detained and questioned Thursday. The gun was brought into the home by one of the friends and did not belong to Walker, Moreno said. A check to see if the gun was registered and who it belonged to had not been completed Friday, she said.
Bernard isn’t the first child Culbert has lost. Her three-year-old boy, DaShawn, was struck by a teen driver while crossing the street in 1997, she said.
Bernard was the youngest of her children. He had turned 16 in October and attended Allen Academy in Detroit.
He gained many friends with his sense of humor and “laid back personality,” said his stepfather, Darren Williams. “He was funny, really silly. He’d make you laugh, no problem.”
Bernard also loved rapping and sports. He played football but basketball was “his favorite,” Terez Walker said. Williams added that the teen hoped to someday play professionally.
Now the family is planning for a funeral and will donate Bernard’s organs.
Said Culbert: “Something good needs to come out of this.”
Staff writer Lauren Abdel-Razzaq contributed.