Father of slain teen was proud of man his son had become
Roosevelt Jenkins sifted through family photos Wednesday at his home, picked out the ones that showed his son, Abraham, and spoke of the fond memories attached.
Abraham, 19, was killed Monday just a few blocks from the West Horah Street boarding house where he lived. Witnesses said Abraham was chased down the street by two men, one wielding a handgun.
Andre Rynell Bognuda, 22, has been charged with Jenkins’ murder and remains in the Rowan County jail without bond. A second suspect is being sought, and Salisbury Police continue to investigate.
Abraham was killed, police say, around 2:50 p.m., at the corner of West Horah and Institute streets.
As a child, Abraham was known as “Abe” and always had a smile on his face. He was polite, quiet and communicated with his father every day. It was routine for Abraham to send a morning text to his father to say hello and wish him a good day.
In fact, the last text message Abraham wrote his father came to Roosevelt at 12:12 p.m. on the day Abraham was killed.
“Good morning pops. Have a nice day,” the text read.
The two often exchanged messages throughout the day, sometimes just a hello or a prayer request for a friend.
“Everything we’ve heard is how he was,” said Connie Jenkins, Roosevelt’s wife.
The two have met neighbors who have said how polite the teen was or how he helped them with their groceries. Roosevelt, a minister at Fairview Heights Baptist Church in Salisbury, said he raised his son in the church.
In fact, Abraham was a member of the choir and usher board at Fairview Heights Baptist.
It wasn’t a surprise to the minister that his son was respectful because it was how he was raised, Roosevelt said.
“You only know the tree by the fruit it bears,” he said.
In the days after his son’s death and upon meeting people who were in his life, Roosevelt said he was proud of the man his son had become.
“He was a gentleman,” Roosevelt said.
He spoke with Abraham’s boss at Summit Developers and he told Roosevelt of the kindness Abraham had always shown to the boss’s father, who is 84 years old.
Roosevelt has learned from other people he’s met what effect Abraham had on their lives.
The Jenkins family lived in Detroit, but unbeknownst to Roosevelt, a car show would lead him to Rowan County.
Roosevelt attended a classic car show in North Carolina more than a decade ago and only intended to stay for a weekend. His weekend exploration of the South turned into a year’s stay.
In 2001, Roosevelt moved to North Carolina and his son soon followed permanently. Shortly after Abraham moved to North Carolina, his cousin, Jarrod followed.
Roosevelt said it never crossed his son’s mind that Salisbury and the neighborhood in which he lived was unsafe.
He said the neighborhood was safer than where they lived in Detroit.
“He used to walk all the time. He felt safe,” Connie said.
The family moved to North Carolina to escape the violence of Detroit, Roosevelt said.
His son’s death was the fourth murder reported this year in Salisbury.
The family has been grieving the loss of other family members who have recently died. This is the third death for the Jenkins family in nearly 90 days. Connie’s brother died last month and Roosevelt’s mother died in July.
Roosevelt recalled it was Connie who called him at work to tell him the news. She’d gotten a phone call from Roosevelt’s nephew, Jarrod, who also lived at the boarding house.
Jarrod arrived home from work to discover police tape wrapped around the place he and his cousin, Abraham, had lived for nearly two years.
Roosevelt said his nephew is better Wednesday than he was earlier, but Abraham’s death was very difficult.
The cousins grew up together and were like brothers, Roosevelt said.
Jarrod declined an interview with the Post.
The family hopes to start a foundation in Abraham’s memory.
There will be a candlelight vigil ceremony tonight at 7:30 near West Horah and Institute streets. Members of Livingstone College’s band are expected to participate.
A second vigil is being held Friday at 10 p.m. on the corner of West Horah Street, near where the shooting took place, is hosted by a local group, the Night Crawlers.
Although Abraham had medical insurance with Summit Developers where he worked in landscaping, he did not have life insurance, his father said.
The family is in the early stages of planning the funeral, but they have decided to bury him in his home state of Michigan. His father said his funeral is slated to be held at St. Peter’s Baptist Church in Detroit.
Anyone who would like to help get Abraham Jenkins’ body back to Detroit can inquire with Fairview Heights Baptist Church at 704-637-2944.
Anyone with information regarding the shooting is asked to call the Salisbury Police Department at 704-638-5333 or Crime Stoppers at 1-866-639-5245. These calls can be made anonymously.