800 Mourn Drive-By Shooting Victim Death Of College Student Sparks Pleas For Peace On City Streets
Mon., June 2, 1997
More than 800 people filled a Tacoma church to mourn Corey T. Pittman, who was killed in a drive-by shooting while he was home from college for the summer break.
Among the eulogies at Saturday’s service came a resounding cry for peace in Tacoma’s sometimes violent streets.
“The frustrating thing about going to funerals is that you see tears, you see sobs, but you don’t see change,” said Al Veillette, a youth minister who knew Pittman.
Veillette also knows Terrence T. Powell, one of the men arrested for investigation of Pittman’s death. Tacoma police last week arrested Powell, 19, and three other teenagers. A 15-year-old and two 18-year-olds were held for investigation of murder.
Police arrested a 20-year-old Lakewood man on Saturday night, a few hours after the funeral. All five suspects are to be arraigned Monday afternoon in Pierce County Superior Court.
Pittman, 19, was one of five people riding home from a night out early May 23 when their car was riddled with gunfire as it drove through the Hilltop area. Two friends, Irshad Altheimer, 20, and Mashana Gee, 18, also suffered gunshot wounds.
The unprovoked shooting sparked outrage.
“Corey was, by all measures, the kind of person that this city looks to for its future leaders,” Mayor Brian Ebersole told the gathering at First United Methodist Church, his voice choked with emotion.
“Instead, his hopes will be buried with him,” Ebersole said. “The community has lost one of its hopes for the future.”
Mourners urged rejection of drugs, violence and gangs.
Those who spoke remembered a young man who wanted a better life for himself and those around him.
“He was a role model to some of us,” said Eric French, one of the pall bearers. “He lived things that are dreams to some of us.”
One friend remembered how Pittman would convince the school bus driver to wait for him when he was late. A young woman said he inspired her to go to college.
Altheimer, limping because of the gunshot wounds in his legs, urged others to keep Pittman’s memory alive by helping each other.
“He loved to see others help people,” Altheimer said, fighting tears.
At Lincoln High, Pittman was senior class treasurer, president of the Martin Luther King Jr. Club, homecoming king and member of a multicultural awareness club. He was chosen Afro King at the school’s African-American Pageant.
Friends remembered he worked hard to save money for college. He was a sophomore at Alabama State University studying political science.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox
Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.