About once a month, Subramonianpillai Teal would go to the East Baltimore neighborhood he grew up in to check in on his Uncle Keith.

The youngest of 10 siblings, Keith Bell may have appeared as a person experiencing homelessness, Teal said, but he always had a place to stay in his neighborhood near the now largely abandoned Old Town Mall, where he had lived all his life. As a cashier at the cut-rate liquor store for two decades, Bell knew everybody — relationships he later expanded by doing odd jobs and favors for people in the community, sometimes for just a few dollars.

But Teal’s last check-in with Bell wasn’t particularly reassuring, he said. Bell, who had been renting a room on Eager Street, told Teal he had been in a shelter for a few days. Teal had made Bell promise to call if it ever got that bad again.

A few weeks later, Bell was stabbed to death in an apparently random act at a bus stop at the corner of E. Monument Street and N. Caroline Street at 3 a.m. on Tuesday Sept. 6, just shy of his 64th birthday.

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The randomness of Bell’s death has taken on a new and even darker turn after the person charged with stabbing him, Gordon Staron Jr., has become the subject of an investigation into the killing another man, Javarick Gantt, in the state-run Baltimore City jail.

Gantt, 34, was deaf and used sign language to communicate. He was being incarcerated for a failure-to-appear violation stemming from relatively minor assault charges, raising questions about the decision to pair him with Staron, 33, who was being held on murder charges in Bell’s death.

The way Bell died never made sense to Teal, who hadn’t learned any of the sparse details available about his uncle’s death until he was contacted by a reporter. If it was in fact true that Bell was randomly killed by Staron, who lived in Harford County with his parents, that would at least explain why no one from the neighborhood could have protected him from the senselessness of the killing, Teal said.

“That is the part that is so painful,” Teal said. “That’s the part that hurts the most. His community loved him.”

The first of his family to get a college degree, Teal now works as a licensed clinical social worker and is the co-founder of Leading By Example, a behavioral health institute. Teal made it out of the neighborhood Bell died in, he said, only with Uncle Keith’s help.

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Growing up with a mother who worked hard, it was Bell who made sure Teal did his homework, made sure he was safe and taught him how to navigate the neighborhood.

Later on, when Teal found success in the mental health field in Baltimore County, it was Bell who urged him to set up a location in East Baltimore to give back to the community he grew up in. The irony, Teal said, is that he finally opened that location earlier this year on Biddle Street, blocks from Teal’s family house.

“He was the consultant to me: telling about gangs, random violence in the neighborhood, he was always concerned about that,” Teal said. “He was a praying man, a godly man, so he moved with a spirit of redemption and belief that we could solve it.”

Baltimore Banner reporter Justin Fenton contributed to this article.