A group of about 60 family members, friends and teachers gathered on a corner in West Baltimore on Thursday night to mourn the loss of Dylan King, an 8-year-old boy who was found fatally shot last week.

Just a few minutes after 6 p.m., white candles were handed out to all those present at Presbury and N. Pulaski streets. Some held red balloons — the boy’s favorite color — as well as white and black. Images of game controllers decorated other balloons; Dylan loved to play video games, especially “Fortnite,” his dad, Roland King, said.

One balloon was in the shape of a “D.”

“We love you, Dylan,” the group said in unison, tears streaming down their faces and welling in their eyes, as they moved to the street to release the balloons.

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As the balloons floated away, the group grew silent. They crowded around King’s mom and dad, who hugged each other tightly as they cried. For several minutes, their crying was the only sound.

“We just want people to know that he was loved,” the boy’s mother, Marlena Cook, said.

Dylan King was found suffering from a gunshot wound to his head on Dec. 30 after police responded to a home in the 2100 block of Presbury Street.

He was taken to Johns Hopkins Children’s Center and pronounced dead a short time later, police said. A department spokesperson said Thursday night that the investigation is still open.

King was a third grader at Matthew A. Henson Elementary School, and showed up every day with a smile, his teacher Stacey Smith said.

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“He is known for the infectious smile he had with his missing teeth,” Smith said. “Everybody knew him through his smile.”

King always showed up ready and excited to learn and to have fun with his classmates, Smith said.

He was a friend to everybody, Smith said, recalling how classmates would say, “That’s my best friend.”

King was energetic and loved sports, Cook said. He played basketball and wanted to play football. When he died, King was still waiting for football season so he could play, she said.

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His grandfather remembers King running up the hill in his backyard, and running around at cookouts.

“He was a just a beautiful kid,” he said. “Precious.”

As the vigil ended, the group held up their candles. “We love you Dylan,” they said, and blew them out.

cadence.quaranta@thebaltimorebanner.com

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