Dasean Mcelveen, a 17-year-old boy from East Baltimore, was killed Thursday night around 8:30 p.m., on the 1700 block of Abbotston Street in the Coldstream-Homestead-Montebello neighborhood. According to police, Mcelveen had been walking with a 20-year-old man when a black van pulled up alongside them, and a passenger shot at them. The 20-year-old man was able to walk to a nearby hospital to get treatment for leg wounds.
Since September, Mcelveen—also known as Smoke to friends and collaborators—had been an active participant at Baltimore Youth Arts, an interdisciplinary arts program for youths in the city that focuses on those in the juvenile justice system. Last year, BYA participated in an exhibition at Platform Gallery, and youths in the program have sold their drawings, paintings, hand-dyed and screenprinted T-shirts, sweaters, and tote bags in pop-ups and shows at Gallery CA, 2640 Space, the Motor House, and others.
The morning after Mcelveen was killed, BYA posted a brief tribute to him on its website, that reads, in part: “This morning the BYA community woke up with some very sad news. A BYA youth staff member, Dasean, lost his life last night. Dasean started our program in the fall and blessed us with his talent.”
Gianna Rodriguez, BYA's founder, described Mcelveen as particularly driven and talented in painting and graphic design, and said that he wanted to pursue a career in rap (he made music as Young Smok3). "The last time we spoke he said that BYA was the only thing he had going for him," she said.
Rodriguez said that he had started going to workshops with BYA last September, and at first he was hesitant to get involved. But then he felt inspired to paint a portrait of an uncle who had passed away. "A lot of the art he chose to make was in memoriam to people he had lost," Rodriguez said, adding that he could've made a career out of graphic design, that he was quick with Photoshop and Illustrator.
Mcelveen was in BYA's pilot studio apprentice program, which involved job readiness and arts training programs.
"Moments like this," Rodriguez said, "show us how important it is to create spaces and opportunities for youth."
A GoFundMe has been set up by one of Mcelveen’s family members to help raise money for his funeral costs.