Tuesday, September 13th, 2011
“June 13, 2003 was a strange night for me. Back then, me and some buddies used to sell PCP in Landover and crack cocaine in Northeast D.C. That night, we were going to pick up some drugs and then go back to my house. There was a hurricane so nothing was open and the streets were pitch black. Along Minnesota Avenue, our car ran out of gas around 3 in the morning because we couldn’t find an open gas station.
“At that time, there were no houses there, just a field. We got out of the car and I called my god brother to come pick us up. Three guys started to come across the field and yell, ‘What are y’all doing in our neighborhood! What are y’all doing in our neighborhood.” Anyone who was in the lifestyle carried guns, and I had a 45 automatic. When the guys approached, I told them that our car broke down and we didn’t want any trouble. I didn’t show the gun because guns are for protection. They started getting all aggressive, so we got aggressive, and I pulled out the gun.
“As soon as they seen it, they went running. I got back on the cell phone, and told my god brother to hurry up. About ten minutes later, two cars, a black, box caprice and a white, bubble caprice, turned the corner and started coming at us. We started running up Minnesota Avenue. Over there, you can’t run right or left because you will end up in someone else’s neighborhood and just get in more trouble.
“There are no cops around there, so my plan was to go to the Quickie Mart on Minnesota Avenue and Benning Road where the police be all night long. As we were running, my friend and I got split up and the white car chased me down to Clay Place. By the time they pulled over, I already had my gun out because I knew what time it was. They jumped out of the car brandishing their weapons. But before they shot me, I shot one of them.
“I didn’t stick around to find out that I killed one of them. He was 17-years-old and named Brandon. I just kept running. By the time I found a cop, I didn’t pull him over because I had just shot someone. I just kept running until I found a cab and begged him to take me home. He was hesitant, but I threw a wad of money at him to take me to Landover. I stayed on the run until August 23, 2003.
“That day, I was at my Mom’s house when I heard the knock in the door at 11am. I knew that homicide was looking for me, but I didn’t think they would ever find me. That minute, my world got flipped upside down. Well, actually, I thought it did, but it didn’t. I came to find out that they didn’t charge me with second degree murder, but assault with a deadly weapon. In D.C., they do whatever they can to railroad you. Somehow, the Lord got involved and I was sentenced to five years, and did three years and two months at Lee County in Virginia.
“My first day in was April 19, 2004, which was eight days after my 26th birthday. It was scary, man. I never did no time before, and I was upset that they sent me to a penitentiary. But my father always told me that if you ever go to jail, the first person who tries to violate you in any kind of way, you have to deal with the situation very aggressively and thoroughly. I didn’t want to do that, but if I didn’t, I was going to get taken advantage of. People respected me on the streets, so I wanted to be respected in there.
“That first night, they put me in the cell with a Muslim even though I am a Christian. He taught me to always be ready. He told me to be up early and keep my boots on and always carry a knife. That was the last thing I wanted to hear my first day in. I remember saying to myself, Lord, how am I going to get through this? With time, things turned around for me. Being locked up was a peaceful period for me. It let me get in tune with myself and my faith. God became more real to me there. At the same time, I never had no nightmares or didn’t think much about Brandon. He was going to kill me, so I killed him first.
“Now, I am out and don’t want none of that no more. I did a thorough self-inventory and see that my life is my kids, my wife, and my work. People depend on me, and my life can’t be about the streets no more. There are ups and downs, of course, but I try and stay the course.
“Still. I think back to my time on the streets and my time away. It is hard to believe it all caught up with me because we ran out of gas.”
Troy is grateful to D.C. Central Kitchen for providing him cooking classes and a work opportunity after he got out. Through job training, meal distribution, and supporting local food systems, DC Central Kitchen is building long-term solutions to the interconnected problems of poverty, hunger, and homelessness. Please consider supporting their work by making a donation or becoming a volunteer.