As reported by NJ.com,Kendal Spear traveled home from school in Florida last week to surprise his girlfriend.
It was her birthday, and their anniversary, and surprising her was just the type of thing the 20-year-old Newark Arts High School graduate would do, his friends said today.
“He was always an amazing guy. Funny guy. One of the funniest people I know.,” said Dwight Budhram, a 22-year-old who first met the standout athlete when they played Little League. “He kept it real with people. He was a good person to be around.”
Spear, who played baseball, basketball and the snare drum at Arts, also surprised friends and neighbors Saturday at a block party in front of his family’s South Ward home, not far from Weequaic Park.
But the day of fun turned terribly wrong sometime late Saturday or early today. Spear was shot and killed right outside his Harding Terrace home.
Spear was taken to University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 1:12 a.m. An unidentified 21-year-old Newark man, also shot on Harding Terrace, was treated for a non-life threatening gunshot wound, Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray and Newark Police Director Samuel DeMaio said in a statement. They would not release further details.
Budhram, however, says Kendal was shot as a result of a large fight. Around midnight, a group walked down Harding Terrace and started causing trouble, he said.
“There was a big ol’ fight,” said Budhram, who said he and other friends tried to keep Spear out of it, telling the instigators he had injuries from a motorcycle accident and couldn’t fight.
But, in the end, someone who Spear did not know walked up and shot him, Budhram said.
“It’s a shame, because he wasn’t living the lifestyle where this happens,” he said.
Friend Dwayne Mays Jr., a 22-year-old who lived with the Spear family for a year, says he left before the melee. “He was breaking up a fight,” Mays said he was told by those who were there.
That’s the type of guy Spear was, those who gathered at his home today to mourn said. A social butterfly whose goofiness and smile were intoxicating, he always wanted to make everyone happy, friends say
“Every day, whatever his friends wanted to do, he wanted to do,” said Shakeel McClary, 21, who called Spear his best friend since the age of 6.
Since graduating from high school, he’d been pursuing a career as a car and motorcycle mechanic. He was attending an automotive school in Orlando, where he wanted to open a shop, friends say.
In high school, he was a decent basketball player. But he stood out for his play on the baseball diamond, a sport he picked up from his father, William Spear, a state umpire. He was a pitcher whose sidearm throw got the job done most of the time. When it didn’t, he didn’t sweat it.
“He’d kind of shrug it off and say we’ll do it again tomorrow,” said James Waldron, the athletic director for Arts High School. He was “that kind of kid — nothing was really a negative. Everything was always okay. He always looked for the silver lining.”