For Bernadette Hargrow, the events of Monday morning were a bittersweet contrast of sorrow and relief. The sun was still rising as she walked out of St. Joseph Church on North Columbus Street, where her son's funeral had just concluded. Following behind the casket, she led a procession toward the hearse. Several people at the funeral were crying, and she stopped to comfort them.
"This is not what C Bear would want," she told one girl. "He's looking down from heaven right now, and he would want me to tell you that you've got to pull yourself together."
Cory Hargrow, 21, who was affectionately known as "C Bear," was shot in the upper body at about 10:30 p.m. on March 8. His family and friends thought of him as a teddy bear, and his smile graced the framed photographs in his family's living room. The blood stains of his murder still darken the white pavement of a housing project on Fayette Street, where he was shot. He was pronounced dead at 11:34 p.m. on Tuesday night.
By Monday morning, Hargrow's murder was still unsolved. Police investigators had been working all weekend, but no one had yet been arrested. Everybody who knew Hargrow had a different story, rumors and accusations were whispered in hushed tones at the funeral as visitors filed past the casket. And then, after the funeral was over, Columbus Street became the scene of a dramatic turn of events.
"I heard the children across the street yelling, 'See, I told you justice would be served.' Everybody was hollering. I didn't know what was going on," Bernadette Hargrow said.
"She looked toward the church, where a sea of people was flowing out of the double doors and down the steps toward the sidewalk. The sun was shining into her eyes, but she could see several police badges glistening in the morning light. And then she understood what was happening. They were arresting someone. It was Eric Jones, a childhood friend of her son.
"I got out of the hearse and I looked at the sky," she said. "I said, 'Thank you Jesus."
THE ARREST of Jones, who had attended Hargrow's funeral, was the subject of much speculation.
"He came up to the casket three times," said the victim's mother. "He cried and cried and cried, talking about how Cory was his home boy."
Cory Hargrow and Eric Jones had been friends since they were children. Hargrow's grandmother taught Jones' nursery school class at Happy Hour Day Care on Queen Street. As late as two weeks ago, they were best friends. They saw each other every day.
Even as teenagers, when many people drift away from childhood friends, they remained close. They would talk late into the night, remembering old times and wondering about the future. But there was something about Jones that made Hargrow's mother suspicious. She told her son to avoid Jones, but he refused.
"My son always saw the best in everybody," said Bernadette Hargrow. "He could see past people's flaws. He was so kind and forgiving. That's just C Bear."
FAMILY AND FRIENDS describe Cory Hargrow as a quiet boy, quick to smile but reluctant to speak. His mother says that Hargrow men are all that way, stoic teddy bears. But C Bear's silent demeanor didn't bring isolation. His funeral was attended by more than 300 friends, many of whom were wearing T-shirts sporting pictures of Hargrow smiling.
He lived his whole life in the same house with his family on Buchanan Street, a red-brick townhouse near the King Street Metro station. He attended Jefferson-Houston Elementary School, Hammond Middle School and T.C. Williams High School, where his parents met a generation before.
"He had a lot of friends, but you always saw him by himself," said cousin Gerald Mickey. "I guess he was kind of a loner. But everybody knew him."
He liked playing football and enjoyed talking about cars, especially Ford Crown Victorias and Pontiac Bonnevilles. He was good at video games, and he liked to teach his cousins how to beat the computer. After he turned 21, he liked to go out to nightclubs in Northeast D.C.
"People knew that he came from a good home," said his grandmother, Jacqueline Hargrow. "I would always see people in the neighborhood and they would always tell me how polite Cory was and how he would always say hello to them on the street."
"People didn't call him C Bear for nothing. Hargrow was a physically active young man, and he enjoyed playing basketball, billiards and baseball. His imposing size made him a competitive player and his easy smile made him somewhat of a ladies' man.
"He was a wonderful kid," said Mary Williams. "But he wasn't always quiet. Sometimes, when he would let loose, he would be so funny. He could really crack everybody up."
WILLIAMS REMEMBERS the day before he was murdered very clearly. He had stopped by her place to talk about a basketball game. March madness was soon to begin, and Hargrow loved to talk about the teams. He asked her for a glass of Kool Aid, which she always made when he came by. It was a day like any other.
But the next day was not, although it started out that way. Hargrow came home in the afternoon, ate dinner and took a shower. He listened to music while he was in the shower. His mother remembers hearing Hargrow play his Tupac Shakur CD so loud that she could hear it in the basement. He ate quickly and went out for the evening.
Around 10:30 p.m., gunfire rang out on North Fayette Street. Mary Williams heard the shots, followed by a pounding on her door. It seemed frantic, like someone was in trouble. She opened the door to see Hargrow, bleeding on the pavement on her front stoop. He had collapsed in front of her door. A medical student who lived in the neighborhood tried to save his life, but Hargrow's lungs quickly filled with blood. People were running around with their cell phones held to their ears.
According to one eyewitness who said he saw the immediate aftermath of the shooting, a small group of men were standing around the victim. Soon after, they fled down the sidewalk leading into the public housing complex. By the time Hargrow arrived at the hospital, it was too late. The gunshot wound was fatal, and police investigators began questioning eyewitnesses and collecting evidence.
A FIVE-DAY INVESTIGATION brought the arrest that was made Monday. The police were waiting for Jones to appear at the funeral, and they had reason to believe that he would be there. When he was spotted inside the church, a decision was made to wait until after the funeral to make the arrest. He was apprehended after the service and taken to the Alexandria jail.
The next morning, Jones appeared via closed-circuit television in an arraignment hearing in which he declined the services of a court-appointed public defender. He was given until March 29 to retain the services of an attorney. The commonwealth seeks to charge Jones with first-degree murder.