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'My son was a star' | Family, friends, teammates mourn the loss of 8-year-old to gun violence

The young players of the Showcase Sharks felt the force of P.J. Evans' story violently and irreparably changed, as boys and their parents gathered to hold vigil.

GREATER LANDOVER, Md. — The inequity between what they had and what they deserved was thrown into stark relief under Summerfield Park’s Friday night lights, as eight-year-olds held pee-wee football helmets and flickering candles at dusk.

They mourned No. 21, Peyton James “P.J.” Evans, the friend who had luminous eyes and boogied before games, a rising third-grader who dreamed of an expansive NFL future under the shadow of neighboring FedEx Field.

The young players of the Showcase Sharks felt the force of P.J.’s story violently and irreparably changed, as the boys and their parents gathered to hold vigil for him after Friday’s practice.

With lowering skies, the thought of the boy’s killer still at large proved to be unbearable for parents, as police continued their homicide investigation into a fourth day.

“Where is justice for P.J.?” asked Norris Goins, a Showcase Shark parent. “By me having an eight-year-old myself, it's pretty tough. I couldn't imagine losing my son to such senseless violence.”

Prince George’s Police described the boy as the unintended target of a flurry of bullets Tuesday night. He was at this aunt’s apartment enjoying Taco Tuesday, playing video games and celebrating a scrimmage win with teammates.

Around 8:20 p.m., police said, a man driving a white sedan pulled into the parking lot outside the apartment and began firing. After a few seconds, neighbors along Brightseat Road described how they ran out of their homes, as a frenzy from the outbreak wore itself into stillness.

“My son was a star,” P.J.’s mother cried, hours after the shooting. “He had a bright future, man. That boy lived for football, he lived for his family, and he loved God.”

At the vigil, the Showcase Sharks wore expressions of numbness – children who have hardly begun to live, some processing shock on a personal scale they’ve never known.

“I heard it when my mom was on the phone with my grandma,” eight-year-old Naz Goins said. “I was like, 'mom, who died?' And she said, 'P.J.' And then, I just started crying.”

“I'm feeling sad because all my teammates know him,” Offered six-year-old Mylin Holloway. “So, all my teammates miss him, and, me too.”

Moments of remembrance are planned throughout the weekend on football fields and outside the Brightseat Road apartment, where candles and stuffed animals are still placed near the boarded-up and shattered glass.

Bishop Joel R. Peebles, Sr. of the nearby City of Praise Family Ministries said his congregation will march to the apartment parking lot Sunday, instead of remaining in pews.

The congregation also offered to pay for all of P.J.’s funeral expenses, in addition to comforting the family well into the future.

“We will be there not just on day one, not just comfort on day two,” Peebles said in an interview. “But our objective is to follow this family and others like this that have struggled and are hurting.”

“I don’t know what’s going on with all these people killing,” Goins, the Showcase Shark parent, said. “You do the crime, eventually it’ll catch up with you, and the dark will always come into the light.”

Prince George’s Police continue to ask anyone with relevant information to call detectives at (301) 516-2512. Individuals wishing to remain anonymous may call Crime Solvers at (866) 411-TIPS, or, go online at www.pgcrimesolvers.com.

Respondents may also use the “P3 Tips” mobile app. Search “P3 Tips” in the Apple Store or Google Play to download the app onto your mobile device. Please refer to case number 21-0038549.

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