Murder victim's kin starts foundation, hosts basketball event
Published: September 28, 2012
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ST. CROIX - Allen Burke was born just two days before Hurricane Hugo brought destruction to St. Croix in 1989.
He was only 18 years old when his life was snuffed out in an instant, shot to death in a common area in JFK housing community just after midnight on Christmas morning 2007.
The reckless shooting that killed Allen and 33-year-old Kenyetta McIntosh and wounded four others, sent shock waves through the community, but was compounded when then V.I. Police Officer Jeffrey Browne and his brother-in-law Luis Melendez were arrested and charged with the murders, multiple assaults and weapon possession.
Just weeks after what would have been his 23 birthday, Burke's family has launched a foundation named in his honor and is presenting the first "Allen Burke Memorial 5-on-5 Basketball Tournament."
A'Jada Burke, Allen's younger sister, said the family had many discussions about doing something in Allen's memory as a way to keep his love for basketball and passion for life alive.
"We discussed it amongst ourselves, and knew we wanted to do something, but the reality of it recently came together," A'Jada Burke said.
In 2008, the family pooled money together and awarded Olani Vanterpool a $500 scholarship in Allen's memory as he graduated from Central High School. A'Jada Burke said he exemplified the things that the family believed were notable of a positive young man in the community.
The family hopes the foundation will grow into fulfilling its purpose of helping youth in the community to explore their talents, build team-working capabilities and hone their leadership skills, she said.
"Allen loved basketball and had been scheduled to go on a full scholarship to Florida Memorial University just one week after his death," A'Jada Burke said. "The fact that his dreams were cut short is significant to us, and we want to stay connected and try to be at least a stepping stone for another young man with the same love for basketball."
She said organizing the foundation and starting its work also has been a way for some in the family to heal, and the entire family circle and many of Allen's friends have been consistent supporters of the purpose and mission of the foundation.
Saturday's tournament begins at 9 a.m. at Educational Complex's Tim Duncan Arena and will include remarks from A'Jada Burke, Vanterpool and Lorkay Scattliff, one of Allen's friends. They all will share some encouragement and words of inspiration for the basketball players and those who attend to support the games.
Nine games have been scheduled for the daylong event, which will showcase the basketball talent of youths from ages 10 to 18. Music groups and artists Ritical, Mada Nile, Pumpa and the Unit and AJ Ventura will perform throughout the day.
"We have had an all-star line up of artists willing to be a part of the tournament, and we are really excited about that," A'Jada Burke said. "Finding alternative ways to motivate the youth and help them realize that they have a purpose in life to fulfill is a great accomplishment."
Despite the gloomy economic climate in the territory since the closing of HOVENSA earlier this year, the business community has thrown a tremendous amount of support behind the foundation and the tournament project, she said.
"We are encouraged by the many businesses that see our vision for a better community, and we thank them for whatever they gave or however they helped to push this project forward," A'Jada Burke said.
Admission to the tournament is free for everyone, and food and drinks will be on sale to help generate funds to support the foundation and its future scholarship awards.
"This is certainly a family-oriented event," A'Jada Burke said. "We have alot of giveaways and fun in store, and we want the entire community to come out and a be a part of this."
- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.