Residents at the Sierra Woods apartments in Long Reach were reeling with grief and shock Thursday, following the stabbing death of their neighbor, 17-year-old Christian Lendell Hall.
Hall was stabbed multiple times while in his home on the 8700 block of Airybrink Lane at about 10 p.m. Wednesday, according to Howard County Police.
Long Reach High School junior Xavier Trevon Bates, 18, of 9089 Lambskin Lane in Columbia, is charged with first- and second-degree murder and first- and second-degree assault, in the stabbing, according to a press release.
Police said they believed Hall and Bates were involved in a fight earlier Wednesday, and that Bates had come to Hall’s home to fight him again, forcing himself into Hall’s apartment, where he stabbed Hall several times before fleeing on his bicycle.
Howard County police said the fight was not gang or drug-related.
Hall had attended Reservoir High School until March of 2009, according to school officials, before transferring to New Visions Academy in Baltimore - a private school for "male students who have been unable to succeed in the public school system," according to the school website.
Christiana Minor, 15, says she was among those who saw Hall taken away in an ambulance Wednesday night.
“I feel really bad,” she said. “I cried last night. It was heartbreaking.”
Agnes Chery, 17, also from Long Reach, said she was troubled by the violence.
“You think you’re safe in your house,” she said. “He was [my] same age. He didn’t even get to see his 18th birthday.”
Nana Opoku, 22, a resident in the Sierra Woods neighborhood, was also shocked by the news.
“I am surprised--Wow,” he said. “I don’t know who would do something like that.”
Earlier, Opoku said he thought the neighborhood had cleaned up.
In 2010, the Howard County Police department had 1,629 “quality of life” calls for service for the Long Reach Village, including 106 calls reporting assault and 18 calls reporting robberies, according to unofficial crime analysis data.
On Thursday afternoon, the Long Reach apartment community where Hall lived was bustling with teens hanging out during summer break and parents rushing to work or taking their children to day care.
One teen, whose mother requested his name not be used, said Hall’s death ricocheted across Facebook Wednesday night. It wasn't long before word reached other communities, like Hall's church.
According to the assistant pastor at St. John Baptist Church, Hall was in the church’s Man-to-Man mentoring program, which matches at-risk students with mentors as role models.
“It’s to help young people in single-parent homes to have another voice to give them positive support - to help our children realize the wonderful potential that’s in them,” said the Rev. Ostein B. Truitt, of the church.
Truitt said she spoke to Carolyn Gayle, the mentoring program’s coordinator Thursday, who said that Hall, who had been in the program since 7th grade, was “bright” and “creative, but had his struggles.”
Gayle was unavailable for comment Thursday.
“He really began to find himself through drama and directing,” said Truitt, relaying her conversation with Gayle. “The mentees did a public service announcement, and he was in charge of directing people and getting people on point.”
Efforts to reach Hall’s family were unsuccessful Thursday.