Slaying victim lost daughter in 2011
The Rev. Lisa Fitzpatrick, an anti-violence advocate and the founder of the Apex Youth Center in New Orleans’ Central City neighborhood, remembers when she met Rakeen Holmes at a 2011 vigil for his murdered 2-year-old daughter, Keira.
“I tried to stay in the background,” she said. “After the cameras and everyone left, I just heard a heart-wrenching wail, and a neighbor said, ‘Can you go talk to this young man? He just lost his baby.’ ”
The chance meeting led to a close friendship that included Holmes living with Fitzpatrick’s family for a time.
It ended tragically Saturday night when the 25-year-old man was shot dead in Broadmoor.
According to New Orleans police spokesman Garry Flot, officers were called to South Gayoso and Eden streets at approximately 8:30 p.m. and found Holmes suffering from a gunshot wound to the face.
He died on the scene, and his identity was released as “Rakeem Holmes” by John Gagliano, chief investigator for the Orleans Parish Coroner’s Office.
Fitzpatrick said his first name is actually spelled “Rakeen.”
Fitzpatrick said she did not know why Holmes was gunned down.
She said she believed he was attending a vigil for someone who had been killed a year ago, she said.
Neighbors said that approximately 30 people had gathered for the occasion and that music blasted from the stereo on a neighbor’s porch.
Holmes’ daughter, Keira, was killed in December 2011 in the 3300 block of Erato Street when gunmen sprayed bullets at a man standing near where the child was playing.
The killing galvanized neighbors and politicians to rail against the indiscriminate violence; Mayor Mitch Landrieu attended Keira’s vigil.
Fitzpatrick said Holmes had purchased seven gifts for the girl before she died, some for her birthday and others for Christmas; after her death, he approached Fitzpatrick about finding a way to not let them go to waste.
The two decided to plan a birthday party for Keira and invite supporters to donate gifts to be given to other children. Fitzpatrick said almost 200 gifts were dropped off that day.
“Rakeen was someone who could take something as tragic and difficult as the death of his baby girl and give back,” she said.
On Sunday, neighbors bemoaned the violence, while a blue stuffed animal rested on the sidewalk where Holmes had been shot the night before.
Fitzpatrick, who used to live a block away from where the shooting took place, said a vigil will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the spot where Holmes was killed.
The Apex Youth Center, 2019 Simon Bolivar Ave. will be accepting donations to help with burial expenses.
She said her family and Holmes’ have been devastated by his murder.
“My heart is broken. My children’s hearts are broken. My community’s heart is broken. My family’s heart is broken. At this time, we’re all consoling each other,” she said.