THE brittle silence of the night was broken with a triptych of commotion that startled sleeping residents of the quiet Summerside neighborhood on February 4, 2020. Gunshots. Crash. Crying.
As Savannah Police Department officers followed the trail, there was no time to take notice of the broken glass and shell casings. As they made their way down a sodden ditch to the blue, Mitsubishi Montero stranded at the bottom, it became more and more apparent the scene that was about to become ingrained in their minds for eternity.
In the backseat, a newborn baby and a man, and in the driver’s seat, a woman hunched over the wheel. The infant’s cries were the only signs of life in the vehicle and once removed, the SUV that was showered with impact marks from multiple bullets quickly transformed from a chariot that protected an innocent and unharmed life to the scene of a double homicide.
Both 24-year-old Kadijah Pendergraph and 22-year-old Nathaniel Harvey, Jr. were dead and according to the case’s detective, Raymond Mercer, two things were known: Both victims had been fatally shot and while Nathaniel was the intended target, Kadijah was simply collateral.
This is the part of the story where too many in Savannah start to drift off. Why was Nathaniel the target? Why was Kadijah with him, while watching someone else’s baby?
While these are all questions that police and especially Detective Mercer had to answer, they are not the details that as citizens we should be compelled to speculate. Two people were killed and an infant narrowly escaped injury or worse, death, because of yet another shooting in Savannah.
Savannah doesn’t just have a gun problem; it has a vigilante problem. It is not the role of man to play God and it is certainly not the role of citizens to play judge and executioner.
Whether it’s a drug deal turned sideways or a gang war stemming from something as innocuous as an insult on Facebook, at some point, we have to stop looking at these incidents as people who played stupid games and won stupid prizes. (Note: None of that in any way is to insinuate that this was the case here).
When people feel empowered and, worse, entitled to kill, we all lose, whether we play the game or not. That baby certainly didn’t choose to participate.
Right now, not much is known beyond the obvious at the crime scene. Those connected to the incident or who may have information avoid law enforcement like the plague. Detective Mercer is already working on his sixth homicide case before he even got a chance to close out this case.
I asked him what is was going to take. His reply? Just someone coming forward to corroborate some information. Seriously, even just one person.