Twenty-seven letters lay in a pink and brown box beneath my bed. These are the letters that I’ve written to my best friend Patrick Dolan, who was murdered in Baltimore City.
Patrick marked the 200th homicide in 2010 and 16 months after his death there have still been no arrests made.
When someone dies in a city as violent as Baltimore, it’s easy to think of them as just a number. But Patrick was not a number, and neither were the other 222 people who died in the city that year.
November 23, 2010 came just like any other day. 19 year old Patrick Dolan had the day off from work, and decided to visit a friend who lived in the Bel-Air Edison neighborhood of Baltimore City. Patrick and his family lived in Dover, Pennsylvania but because he was raised in Baltimore, he had many friends and family in the area.
In order to get to his friend’s house, Patrick took a city bus from Hazelwood Avenue in Rosedale. When he reached the Bel-Air Edison neighborhood he got off on the wrong stop, and decided he could walk to his destination.
Around 10:45 am Patrick was walking near Juneway Street and Brendon Avenue. He was approached by a young man asking him if he had change for a $10 bill. Patrick, always helpful, quickly pulled about $15 out of his pocket. At this point, the young man attempted to rob Patrick. When Patrick resisted another young man became involved in the altercation. Patrick was then fatally stabbed twice in the chest.
This was 16 months ago, and since that Tuesday, the world has seemed a little less joyful to everyone who knew Patrick.
He was not just a number or statistic. People who knew Patrick best would describe him as friendly, charismatic, kind, and genuine. He embodied qualities that are hard to find in the world today. He was a loving son and a devoted brother to his three siblings Billy, Joseph, and Emily.
He was handsome with beautiful bone structure and the most vibrant blue eyes that I’ve ever seen. He had a kind heart, always stopping to talk to the homeless rather than passing by and giving his new clothes to the needy, keeping the old clothes.
The most noticeable thing about Patrick was his passion for life. He was an early riser who couldn’t wait to get his day started. Each day was an adventure.
Patrick’s dad, Bill Dolan, recalls many times when he would be driving the car down a residential street with Patrick in the passenger side. Patrick would often wave his hand out of the window and let the air hit his fingers.
Then he would look at his dad and say, “Do you feel that air, dad? Isn’t it awesome?” Patrick never took a moment for granted.
Since Patrick’s death his family has been trying to keep busy. They take it one day at a time, and just try to survive the best they can. They have also reached out for help.
Just like I write letters to Patrick, his parents, Bill and Dee Dolan began writing letters. When it seemed that the Baltimore City Police Department was lagging on Patrick’s case, his parents began making efforts to help Patrick for themselves.
Dee Dolan says “As time went on it became evident that Patrick was not a priority to the Baltimore City Police Department.”
Because of this Bill and Dee Dolan sent letters to many powerful people in Maryland, in search of answers. In June 2011, Mrs. Dolan sent a letter to Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake, explaining the story and asking for help. In the letter Mrs. Dolan also proposed an idea about her and Mr. Dolan speaking at area schools to explain the effects of murder on a family and community.
Patrick’s family also hung posters with a picture of Patrick in consenting Bel Air-Edison businesses. The poster asked anyone with information about Patrick’s murder to call 1-866-7 LOCKUP.
When I ask Mrs. Dolan why she wants to speak in neighborhood schools she says “I want young people to realize that these people took a life and in turn it affected hundreds of lives.”
With no response from the mayor, the Dolans sent a follow up letter, and still received nothing. When hearing this news, I myself was angered. I decided to contact State’s Attorney Gregg L. Bernstein informing him of Patrick’s story. Although Mr. Bernstein did respond, there still has been no movement in Patrick’s case. Most recently, the Dolans contacted Governor O’Malley and are still awaiting a response.
It is unbelievable to me that a young man can be killed in cold blood, on a residential street, and receives no justice. When asking the Dolans about their feelings on the city, they feel resentment.
Mrs. Dolan says “It affects me most knowing that it’s a place that I grew up in; I never thought something would happen to my son.”
The Dolans visit Baltimore often to see family and root for the Ravens during football season, but it will never feel the same.
Mr. Dolan makes a good point when he says, “I love the city for what it could be, and it’s a shame for what it is due to violence.”
Nothing can bring their son back, but the Dolan’s focus is getting through this tragedy and sparing others from feeling the same pain. They feel that the best outcome is justice and awareness. The Dolans feel that so many kids grow up with nothing to live for and that is where the problem lies.
To the people who killed Patrick, life was only worth the amount of money in Patrick’s pocket that day. There has to be more done to stop this ongoing cycle. What Patrick’s family wants most is for their son’s killer to be off the streets so that he can’t hurt someone else’s child.
As frustrating as these last 16 months have been to Patrick’s family and friends, they will never give up trying. Patrick lived a life in 19 years that most people don’t live in 80 years. He was one of a kind and had a way of helping everyone in one way or another. He wouldn’t want his parents to be heartbroken forever and he wouldn’t want hate to be what came out of this situation. He would just want justice, and he deserves justice.
Until then, we’ll keep writing letters, pursuing answers, and praying for hope.