Everyone knew Shadeed Burke was going places.
When Pastor Denise Wooten-Troutman became Shadeed's counselor in a program for at-risk kids two years ago, he told her, "I wouldn't be here if I didn't want to change." He became, she says, "one of our models."
At the McDonald's on Route 38 in Cherry Hill, assistant manager Punai Dumas of Camden became a mentor.
Dumas had bought a car with his fast-food earnings. "People in my neighborhood thought I was selling drugs to get money, even though I was wearing a McDonald's uniform all the time! Shadeed saw me, the nice car, and everything and thought, 'This is the way to go.' "
By the time Shadeed was gunned down on May 11 by an intruder who pushed past his mother to enter the family home on the 1100 block of Kenwood in Camden, he was putting in up to 35 hours a week as a crew chief at McDonald's. The Camden High junior was also so popular that one teacher called him "a rock star without a guitar."
And he'd become a father.
Camden police have implied the crime may be drug-related.
"Shadeed was not involved in drugs," says McDonald's manager Chris Finger. "He was going to go somewhere."
"There's so many obstacles in the inner city," says Wooten-Troutman, "but in spite of that, he'd made a decision to do what he needed to do to be successful. And then to come to a terrible demise?"
Of the many who grieve for Shadeed - coworkers, classmates, family members - only his father, Johnny Strong, has found some comfort, in cradling his son's 2-month-old baby, Nazir.
"We're lucky," he says, "because my son had a son before he died. So we get to love our grandbaby. A lot of people don't have that."
Contact Inquirer photographer April Saul at 215-854-2872 or email@example.com.