Saturday, September 20, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Kairae Oakes, 17

Kairae Oakes
Kairae Oakes

On Nov. 11, Kairae Oakes died in a hail of 27 bullets . . .

Exactly one year after his best friend, Malik Edmonds, was gunned down and lost to him forever.

In Kairae's old West Philly neighborhood - a place his mother moved the family from two years ago so her kids would be safe.

And in the shadow of a mural at Spring and Salford Streets dedicated to 17 other homicide victims.

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  • SLIDESHOW ON KAIRAE
  • Nearly 48 hours later, detectives arrive at the Delaware County home of Kairae's mother, Ada Oakes. Praying moments earlier, now she seethes as the men interview family members.

    "This is going to be another unsolved murder, anyway," she says bitterly. According to Oakes, the police never caught Malik's killer or the assailants who shot and wounded two of her other children before this, so why should now be any different?

    The men tell Oakes' daughter Kiyana they have no leads, only bullet casings, and "need the people on the street that are seeing stuff to come forward."

    The next day, Ada Oakes articulates a frustration the detectives no doubt share. "Nobody's going to step up and it's sad because it just goes on and on."

    Kairae Oakes was so soft-spoken his mother doubted he'd even been in a fistfight.

    "It should have been me," one of his friends told Ada Oakes. "Kairae was better than I was."

    He loved basketball and would do anything for anybody. His bedroom was a shrine - to Allen Iverson and Malik. "He cried like a baby," Oakes says, "when Malik died."

    The day Kairae died, he and a group of friends had visited Malik's grave. They were out on the sidewalk at 9:30 p.m., when shots were fired from a distance. Only Kairae was struck.

    A neighbor who helped finance the mural just yards from the crime scene says a second is being considered. But the popular block parties, with balloons released to honor the victims, have stopped.

    "Too dangerous," he says, "We didn't want any of the kids to be hit."

     


    Contact April Saul at 215-854-2872 or asaul@phillynews.com.
    April Saul Inquirer Staff Writer
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