Baltimore has seen a devastating wave of gun violence among its young people this year. The first three months of 2023 marked the deadliest start to a year for teens since 2015. The violence has only continued.

Since the beginning of January, 15 teenagers and a 12-year-old have died as a result of gun violence.

Many of their deaths prompted responses from the city, the school system and residents on social media who have said, over and over: stop killing our children.

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The numbers are jarring. Yet, within those statistics are individual lives.

One child told his mother every day: “I love you.” Two said cereal with milk was their favorite food. Several had big dreams — of becoming rappers, football players or entering the military.

The Baltimore Banner attempted to contact the loved ones of every teen and the 12-year-old who was fatally shot since the beginning of this year, or to find obituaries written by those close to them. Below, we have written about some. We only know little about others. Several families declined to talk with a reporter, did not respond or could not be reached.

If you know a teen whose name is listed below and would like to share a story or memory, email cadence.quaranta@thebaltimorebanner.com to find a reporter who would love to listen.

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Jan. 1: D’Asia Garrison, 17

D’Asia Garrison was found shot on Jan. 1 in the 700 block of North Glover Street. She was taken to the hospital, where she died.

One social media post mourning Garrison called her “the family favorite little ‘MaMa.’” A photo shared along with funeral arrangements shows Garrison in a long white dress, holding a handbag. Two large purple wings appear to come out from behind her.

Jan. 4: Deanta Dorsey, 16

Deanta Dorsey always had a smile on his face, according to his obituary. Affectionately known as “Dink,” he loved to play basketball and video games. He was loyal and kind.

The oldest boy of a large family, Dorsey loved his family and liked to agitate his sisters and cousins.

He would eat cereal and milk “all day if he could,” the obituary said.

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On Jan. 4, Dorsey was fatally shot across the street from Edmondson-Westside High School where he was a sophomore in a mass shooting that also injured four other teenage boys.

The boys were at the Edmondson Village Shopping Center for lunch, and were outside Popeyes when they were shot, officials said.

After the shooting, an advocate representing the family described Dorsey as a sweet and hardworking child. In social media posts, friends and loved ones mourned him with the hashtag “foreverdink.”

Jan. 12: Aaron Dorsey Jr., 18

Aaron Dorsey Jr., or “Little Aaron,” as he was known, loved to rap and write his own music, according to his obituary.

He was quiet, but when he entered the studio, “he let every emotion flow,” the obituary said.

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Dorsey loved his family. He played football for the Avenue Bears and liked to eat cereal. He had sisters and brothers and a daughter. He wouldn’t leave your side without telling you he loved you.

On Jan. 12, Dorsey was found inside a car in the unit block of West Biddle Street with multiple gunshot wounds, and later died from his injuries, police said.

“Every room he walked in, you felt his presence, his affectionate smile was contagious,” the obituary said. “Aaron’s spirit will forever live on, and he will forever be missed.”

Jan. 13: Joseph Kawa, 18

Joseph Kawa (Courtesy of Elizabeth Kawa).

Joseph Kawa was a giver.

If a friend needed help, he’d ask his mom if they could stay at the family’s home in Anne Arundel County. If a friend needed a ride, he’d make sure they got one.

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His big sister Elizabeth Kawa said Joseph was the baby of the family. But he was 6 feet, 3 inches tall, and she called him her “little big brother.”

If Elizabeth ever vented to her brother, she knew he would give her good advice and try to ease her mind. If she felt unsafe, Joseph would always ask: “Are you OK? Do I need to come up there?” I got you, he’d say.

“My sister, my mom, my grandmother, all he wanted to do was protect us,” she said. “Joe was our protector.”

Joseph Kawa was smart and entrepreneurial, his sister said. For around two years in middle school, he’d sell chips and drinks in his neighborhood to make a profit. With the money he made, he’d take himself school shopping for shoes and clothes.

Joseph Kawa was a senior at Meade Senior High School. He had a passion for rap, and the day he died, he was heading to a studio in Baltimore to record his music, his sister said.

He was found unresponsive inside a car in the unit block of South Caton Avenue on Jan. 13. He was taken to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where he died.

Another teen was injured in the shooting and found with a non-life-threatening graze wound to his head.

After high school, Kawa wanted to join the Army and pursue music, his sister said.

“He was destined for greatness,” his sister said. “I was looking forward to seeing what he would have accomplished.”

Jan. 20: Dion Brandon, 19

Dion Brandon was fatally shot in the 500 block of Richwood Avenue. When police found him, he had gunshot wounds to his chest and abdomen. He was taken to the hospital, where he died.

A second victim was found in the 4800 block of York Road. Police said the 22-year-old man was in serious condition.

Jan. 24: Marquis Stuckey, 18

Marquis Stuckey was found shot in the 1700 block of Lamont Avenue and was taken to the hospital for surgery. Police later said he had died from his injuries.

Jan. 25: Laron Henderson, 15

Laron Henderson (Courtesy of WJZ)

Laron Henderson stood over 6 feet tall and was a “gentle giant,” as one family member called him.

“A happy, playful, gentle giant. That’s who Laron is. A helpful person. A loving person and who was loved,” Henderson’s aunt Shanea Jones told WBAL in January.

He had a “heart of gold,” she said.

Henderson was a student at Forest Park High School and worked as hard as he could, one family member told WMAR. That semester, he’d earned perfect grades, they said.

He had hoped to play on Forest Park High’s basketball team and eventually aspired to join the Army, the family told WMAR.

On Jan. 25, Henderson was fatally shot just blocks from the school, in an alley behind the 4300 block of Liberty Heights Avenue. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Feb. 5: Andres Moreno Jr., 16

Andres Moreno Jr. (Courtesy of Kiana Martin).

When Andres Moreno Jr. grew up, he wanted to be a football player or a rapper, his mother Kiana Martin said.

Moreno started writing lyrics in middle school. “Ma, look what I’d got,” he’d say. He’d sit in the kitchen and perform for her.

He was the spitting image of his mother. He loved to dress in Under Armour clothes and shoes, she said. He loved to learn dances and make TikTok videos with his younger siblings. He learned to play the drums and once performed in a marching band.

He would help others, she said. When he was in middle school, he saw a boy outside his home. “He’s hungry,” Moreno told his mother before making the boy a bag of food. He picked out two outfits of his own and gave them to the boy, too.

The oldest of four, Moreno took care of his younger siblings and liked to draw and color with them, Martin said. He taught them how to get along and how to play together, she said. He’d shovel snow off driveways to make money to buy them candy and toys.

“He was my little protector,” Martin said. “He always say, ‘Ma, I’m here, I’m near.’”

Moreno was fatally shot on Feb. 5. He was found unresponsive in the 1800 block of East 29th St., and pronounced dead at the scene.

Before he died, he was working on getting his driver’s permit. He dreamed of buying his family a house one day. He wanted to go to prom and get his high school diploma.

“He didn’t have the opportunity to do none of that,” she said. “I just miss his spirit and his smile, just him.”

Feb. 14: Dionte Williams, 18

Police found Dionte Williams in the 1900 block of East North Avenue with gunshot wounds. He died at the scene.

March 6: Izaiah Carter, 16

Izaiah Carter, 16. He was found shot and unresponsive in Joseph E. Lee Park. (Baltimore Police Dept.)

Izaiah Carter was positive and ambitious. He was a student at Patterson High School and a member of the JROTC, and he had recently received a promotion at his first job, according to his obituary.

He had a “can do” attitude and worked to perfect his quirky smile. It was contagious, according to the obituary.

While other first-year cadets may not like JROTC because of the uniform and grooming standards, Carter did not have any issues, said William Fork, the group’s instructor. He was intelligent and “would’ve went far in the program,” Fork said.

Carter had thought about joining the military after high school, Fork said.

He loved music and had a passion for “creating beats,” his obituary said. He was an intense gamer.

He constantly encouraged those around them “to do and be their best” and wanted to make his loved ones happy, his obituary said.

He was a goofball, “an active and protective big brother, a helpful and responsible son, and a loyal and caring friend,” his obituary said.

Police found Carter in Joseph E. Lee Park unresponsive and suffering from a gunshot wound to the head during school hours. He was taken to the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

March 16: Tavon Wilson Jr., 19

Tavon Wilson Jr. was a great kid who “never bothered a soul” and stayed out of trouble, according to an online fundraiser for his funeral.

He was found shot in the 600 block of North Arlington Avenue, and pronounced dead at the scene.

March 24: Timothy Walker Jr., 19

Timothy Walker Jr., played offensive guard on the football team at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, and was a member of the school’s 2021 championship team.

He was a leader, his coach Lawrence Smith remembers, especially with the younger players on the team.

“He took charge of what we needed to do even when games got tough,” Smith said. In one game against Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School, Smith said, Walker stepped up and made key blocks that helped the team score in crucial moments.

Even off the field, Walker always worked to keep his team motivated, his coach said.

Walker was shot twice in the chest. Police found him on the 3000 block of East Preston Street, where he died.

“We are heartbroken ... Tim Walker has passed away much much too soon. Always remembered, never gone,” the Dunbar Poets wrote in a tweet.

April 10: Kamren Murphy, 16

Kamren Murphy loved robotics and spending time with his brothers, his father Jarmarcus Lawson told WBAL.

He could always make you smile, his father said. He was family-oriented and didn’t get into any trouble.

Murphy was shot in the 2500 block of North Longwood Street. Police found him at Sinai Hospital, where he went to get treatment for a gunshot wound to his torso. He later died.

Murphy was home-schooled due to bullying at school, his father said.

April 15: Jaylen Richards, 12

The South Baltimore community showed up for a candlelight vigil for Jaylen Richard, a 12-year-old fatally shot in April 2023. (Kaitlin Newman/The Baltimore Banner)

Jaylen Richards was independent. He was fun to be around, said Ronald Hammond, a Westport community member who frequently saw Richards around the area, always with a smile on his face.

A sixth grader at Westport Academy, Richards never sat still. He was always doing something, Hammond remembers. He played football and was a leader on and off the field, Hammond said. “You can tell how the people that be around him, they listen to the things he say,” he said.

Richard was killed on April 15, when he was found shot multiple times in the chest with an assault-style rifle. He died from his injuries later that night.

In the days following, family, friends and strangers posted support for Richards — who they call “J Rock” — on social media. Over 60 people attended a vigil for Richards later that week. “We love you J Rock,” they said in unison, as they released large blue balloons into the sky in his honor.

Richards was wearing an ankle monitor when he died, his grandmother Anitra Jones told Fox 45. Older kids had taken advantage of Richards because of his age, she said.

“He was doing things that a child his age shouldn’t,” Jones said. “These older kids out here that he was dealing with got my grandson killed,” she later added.

Richards liked to ride bikes and play basketball. He had lots of energy, sometimes too much, his friends said.

One friend, a 15-year-old girl, said when she was feeling down, he’d give her compliments to try to cheer her up. “You’re so pretty, keep your head up,” he’d say.

April 21: Anquan Jackson, 17

Anquan Jackson was a student at Achievement Academy at Harbor City High School until Dec. 13 of last year.

He was found inside a stolen vehicle on April 16 in the 200 block of Colvin Street. He had been shot in the head. Jackson was taken to a hospital, and died five days later after he was taken off life support.

Two other teens were also shot. Police said the shooting happened after a dispute during a dice game.

May 14: Jamal Martin, 18

Jamal Martin was found in the 2300 block of Homewood Avenue with a gunshot wound. He was taken to Johns Hopkins Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Police identified him Thursday.

cadence.quaranta@thebaltimorebanner.com