Talib Bailey-Hankerson, 3

Ty-Ty died looking down a gun barrel. He was laid to rest holding a lollipop.

Police said that on Oct. 15, about 1 p.m., the child found a registered .45-caliber pistol and shot himself in the face. The gun and the Raymond Street rowhouse where it happened belonged to Dave Walter, boyfriend of Ty-Ty's mother, Lawanda Bailey, who lives across the street. Both adults and Ty's brother Dejour, 9, were in the house.

Talib Bailey-Hankerson

Ty-Ty tore up this little block of Feltonville, and they loved him for it. He'd open your car door as you pulled up - but only if he wasn't throwing a ball, trying on somebody's shoes, or visiting neighbors.

"I'm going to miss him pulling my screen door open and running," Lois Fleet said. It's not hard for her to imagine Ty-Ty firing a gun "because he was very curious."

Ramon Crespo Jr. calls Walter "a gentle giant" who'd often play with the children in the street, Ty-Ty on his shoulders. Hours after the shooting, Crespo was worried. Walter had come home from the police station and locked his door.

"All I heard was banging... . I kicked the door down and ran upstairs and held him, and we stood there crying together... . That's something he's going to have to live with for the rest of his life."

Two nights later, Walter and Lawanda Bailey were surrounded by relatives at her mother's home, his arm around her shoulders. Bailey, 27, who is studying to be a medical assistant, held a snapshot of Ty-Ty, crumpled because she'd been falling asleep with it. Walter, also 27 and soon to be an electrician, said the boy "called me daddy, every day, all day." He was proud that Ty-Ty was potty-trained in the last days of his life.

Some younger family members were "very angry at Dave," said Lawanda's mother, Celestine Bailey. "For the most part, the older ones understand that these things happen... . You got to forgive each other - and yourself."

Contact staff photographer April Saul at 215-854-2872 or asaul@phillynews.com.

More Coverage