Jan 202011
 

Latisa Lewis, mother of Errol Meeks, speaks at a vigil for her son at the shooting site on Freret near Dufossat Street. Meeks, 19, was fatally shot Monday night while exiting Friar Tuck's bar. "I really appreciate the love that you are showing my son right now. It makes me feel better to know that I wasn't the only one that loved him, my ma wasn't and that my immediate family wasn't the only one that loved him. I see he is loved by the community and he was a good baby. I know he is with the Lord right now and I am going to miss him dearly, because he was my first boy ," said Lewis, between tears. (Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

In the faces of a hundred mourners, the grief and regret looming over Freret Street was illuminated by candlelight Wednesday night before a small memorial, a bare tree guarded by a little white picket fence and hung with teddy bears, balloons, flowers and a photo of a slain teenager in his favorite red cap.

Inconsolable sadness, uncontrollable anger, caution, duty, dismay and respect were all on display in the crowd, reflecting the widening sphere of damage since the life of 19-year-old Errol Meeks ended in gunfire late Monday night.

Latisa Lewis cries at a vigil for her son Wednesday night. (Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

The predominant reaction was outright mourning, as those who loved the boy nicknamed Scooter wailed and wept openly at their loss. Only two nights after Meeks was slain in that exact spot, the sudden end of all of his 19-year-old promise and personality was still too painful for many family members to bear.

“He was a loving person,” said Kanika Franklin, one of the organizers of the vigil. “He wasn’t into no drama. He wasn’t into no beef. This was just senseless.”

Meeks had played high school basketball at McDonogh #35 when he was younger, “just a real cool person in general,” said 17-year-old Timothy Thompson, a friend who’d exchanged greetings with Meeks on the street Monday afternoon just hours before the shooting. Meeks was fiercely competitive at sports and video games, so loved the music of rapper Lil Boosie that when it came on he’d dance to it by himself, and was entering a job-training program.

“He said, ‘Y’all ain’t gonna see me for a minute,’” said Trekina Lacoste, recalling one of her last conversations with him. “I said, ‘Go ahead. You doing the right thing.’”

For others gathered on Freret Street, the pain manifested as anger. The sound of sobbing was occasionally interrupted by gruff shouts of pain and defiance, and friends would escort the shouters away. “This is not the time,” one man insisted to a visibly agitated friend, leading him away from the crowd as police watched carefully from a short distance away.

Meeks was shooting pool at Friar Tucks the night he was shot, and friends and investigators have said his slaying followed a fight he was not involved in but had tried to break up. Though Meeks was acting as a peacemaker, his death has the potential to ignite yet another fire in the tinderbox of New Orleans street culture. Police have named 25-year-old William Baham as the man who killed Meeks, and officers watching Wednesday night’s crowd said they fear that retaliatory shootings will follow if Baham is not arrested quickly.

The vigil took place at the corner of Freret and Dufossat, directly across from the now-shuttered bar where Meeks was played his last game of pool. Bar owner Jason Blitch said Tuesday that after the trauma of losing a well-known patron directly in front of his establishment, he will not reopen, and those who sat on the building’s steps and wept Wednesday did so on a darkened porch already stripped of all its old Friar Tucks signage.

Friar Tucks was already under the city’s scrutiny after being cited for underage drinking following a police raid last summer. Since that time, Blitch had done everything he was asked, police said, and following a 30-day suspension scheduled to start next month he was planning on reopening a different business, he said this week. Kellie Grengs, a neighbor who in the past has been vocal about problems she perceived with the bar, said Blitch had met with her Monday afternoon and laid out a plan to abandon the college bar altogether and open a restaurant. “His entire business model” was going to change, he said.

Community members gather at a vigil for Errol Meeks. (Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

For Grengs and many others paying their respects Wednesday night, Meeks’ murder tragically mars the last few years of steady progress on Freret Street. New businesses continue to open on the historic corridor, and on Monday, a number of news outlets were reporting the appearance of bright new banners heralding “The New Freret.” That story was swept aside, of course, in the wave of reporting about Meeks’ death that evening, as was a more indepth account of tensions between the young entrepreneurs on Freret and the older landowners they say are hindering the redevelopment.

These thoughts were left unspoken Wednesday night, however, set aside out of respect for the loss of a young life that drew more than 100 people around an overburdened tree.

“When I saw him there with his eyes open, I thought he was still here,” Lacoste said. “But he was gone.”

Jasmin Meeks , sister of Errol Meeks, weeps while wearing her brother's hat at a vigil for Errol Meeks. (Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

Latisa Lewis, mother of Errol Meeks, is comforted by family members. "I love him and I miss him so much. He was my heart and they just ripped half of my heart out. Half of mine and half of my mother

Family, friends and community members gather around a memorial for Errol Meeks at the shooting site on Freret near Dufossat Street Wednesday night. (Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

Family of Errol Meeks comfort each other as they cry together at the vigil held for him Wednesday night. (Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

A photograph of Errol Meeks, 19, forms part of a memorial for him. (Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

Family and friends of Errol Meeks comfort each other at the vigil Wednesday night. (Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

Candles lit on the memorial to Errol Meeks. (Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

Photos by Sabree Hill; article by Robert Morris. Contact us at sabreehill@NolaMessenger.com and rmorris@NolaMessenger.com, or post your comment below.

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  • keyonna brown

    nephew i will miss u so much

  • keyonna brown

    i know u in a better place right now, ERROL AND SUG I KNOW YALL TOGETHER UP THERE IN HEAVEN. WE LOVE YALL AND MISS YALL SO MUCH

  • Paulette

    May God continue to give you strength, direction, help, comfort and love during
    this time. May he also keep and protect you.

  • Lakeisha Bishop

    Latisa my heart goes out to you and your family. I pray that GOD strenghtens your heart. I love you and Im praying for you and your family may GOD be with u all

    Lakeisha Bishop

  • Sherri Smith

    Dearest Latisa. My prayers are with you and your family. Know that as you struggle through this, your Houston family loves you. Hopefully you can draw strength from us as we rally in prayer for you. God bless you and your family.

  • Christine Davis

    Latisa,

    My heart is so heavy for your lose. I knew Errol like he was my nephew. I watched him grow and I am devastated that I could not be there for you and your family. I wish your mother much love!! I know what you guys are going through. Continue to pray and I know that God will take care of it all.

    John 11:23-26 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to to Him. “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who lives in Me, though he may die, he shall live.”

    I love you and your family!! Errol will always live in our hearts and minds. So sorry to see him leave us so young.

    Christy

  • Priscilla

    Tisa and Nola family, I pray that God gives you strength and guidance during this time of need. I pray that God continues to bless you with priceless moments with each other. I know how it feels to lose someone so close to you. Stay prayful and know that God is there for you always.

  • Aurelia and William Owens

    Latisa, Jasmine, Errol Sr., and family..

    We are so distrault to hear about the loss of your precious family member, Errol Jr. Our heart goes out to you. May God’s Peace sustain you and continue to wrap His Love around you and your family during this difficult time. We in Houston, Texas love, miss, support and are praying for you, family and friends. Grieve while you must, but Trust in God. He will truly get you all thru in time. Love you all,

    Aurelia and William Owens

  • Shannon

    To Latisa, Jasmine and all others who knew and loved Errol,

    Our hearts here at HPD are extremely heavy for you and your family. We were just devastated.

    Just know that Errol is with you always in your heart. I know that he is a beautiful spirit as I see the same caring, spirit in you Latisa.

    May you continue to see him in all the beautiful things in your lives, because he will live forever through your hearts.

    Love,

    Shannon

  • Allison

    Errol Sr., Latisa and Family.

    ” Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comet in the morning. (Psalms 30:5) ”

    Errol, I know your heart is heavy. God will give you the strength and guidance. Seek Him, and He will restore your Joy. My heart goes out to you. Much love… Lil Errol was special to me and the boys. We will miss him dearly.

    Love,
    Alice, Lil Larry & Julien

  • Scharlene Brooks

    Latisa,
    My heart goes out to you and your family along with many prayers for your strength during this time. Much love and be strong. Keep leaning and depending on Jesus for strength. Scharlene

  • Nicola Ingram

    My love & prayers to you Latisa, Jasmin & your family. Good people trying to live a good life, Errol was a wonderful product of the love you all gave him & taught him. So very very sorry for your loss. Stay strong together so you, Jasmin, your mama & all Errol’s loved ones are not beaten by this senseless act of violence.
    From your friends in Ireland, love always, Nic, Colin, Rachel & Mattie

  • Yannie

    Lewis and Meeks family,

    You all are in my thoughts and prayers every day.I am truly sorry about your loss. Please know that my prayers are with you, that God will strengthen you. Please reflect upon Psalms 3:3 and 147:3. It reads, “He heals the broken in heart, and binds up their wounds.” Psalms 3:3 reads, “But Thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of my head.” May the peace of God be with you.

  • Sharron Dillon

    Latisa and family….
    Latisa I know that there are no words to express the grief you and your family must be feeling right now..I’ve known you for only a short while,, but you have a strong and beautiful spirit and heart. Know that God and time heals…I know he must have had a beautiful spirit like you.. I pray that his death won’t be in vain.. you all are in my prayers..

  • KISSEY

    ERROL I WILL MISS U N U MAY B GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN.. LOVE U
    TO MY FRIENDS MY PRAYERS, HEART GOES OUT FOR U N TO U. I LOVE YALL KEEP YALL HEAD UP. GOD IS THE ONLY ONE THT COULD HEAL A BROKENHEART. B BLESS N STRONG..
    KISSEY N THE KIDS

  • JoJo Newsom

    Letisha,
    Sorry for your lost our prayers are with you in Baton Rouge, LA.

  • Rena Williams

    Latisa,
    There are no words that I can say to mask the pain you & your family are feeling right now. Just know that God is in control and your Houston friends are praying for your comfort, understanding & closure . You are Loved. May peace and love give you and your family the strenght you need.

  • Travis Addison

    To the meeks family my prayers

    If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.

    Happy moments, praise God.

    Difficult moments, seek God.

    Quiet moments, worship God

    Painful moments, trust God.

    Every moment, thank God

  • Vonnie Grether

    Latisa and the Meeks family,
    My heart aches for you of all, loosing a child in any way is horrible but as everyone has said God is there for you. I pray for you strength and God’s love to hold you through this terrible time. Someone told me once that when you loose someone God has picked a rose for his garden, the ones left have to deal with the pain but God has the plan.
    I am JConlee mother and I hope I can meet you some day and give you some of my love.

  • Mike Brown & Senetra Wilson

    Latisa, Jasmine, Errol Sr., and family..

    We are deeply saddened by your loss.

    Cherish the memories of the times that you spent together.

    Although it’s difficult today to see beyond the sorrow, may looking back in your memories help to comfort you tomorrow.

    We are with you during this time of grief.

    Michael Brown
    Senetra Wilson

  • Michael

    Latisa
    I pray you will be strengthen with the comfort and love of God during this season of bereavement and may the peace which comes from the memories of your son, comfort you now and in the days ahead.

    Michael H.

  • Althea Scott

    Latisa,

    My prayers are with you and your family….

    Althea Scott
    Houston Police Department

  • T Lewis

    Latisa, it’s Tracy Lewis. I am so very sorry to hear of your loss. You and Jas and your family are in my prayers. Many of my friends here in FL are praying for you also. May God bless and keep you.