Police console woman whose friend has just been murdered

"To the Person Who Knows Who Killed Gregory Bowens"
by Jocelyn Y. Stewart

from the January 24, 1998 Los Angeles Times

      Somebody decided that Gregory Bowens should die. Without knowing who shot Greg and left him dying on a street in Inglewood one day last November, it is safe to say the killer did not fully understand Greg's potential, and probably did not pause to consider just how much would be lost the second the trigger was pulled.

      Of course people who kill usually don't ponder such thoughts.

      Greg was a security guard at the Los Angeles Times. He stood near the front desk in the lobby each morning, a youthful 25-year-old who sometimes looked more like a ROTC cadet standing at attention. He smiled, "Good morning" and "May I see your I.D.?"

      But he was planning other things. Even those who knew him only in passing could sense his drive. Determination has a way of making itself known even in brief exchanges.

      Greg held a second job at Federal Express. And in between his two jobs he was a student at Santa Monica College, studying to become a juvenile probation officer.

      Being a father, taking his 3-year-old to Chuck E. Cheese, the park and the beach was a source of joy and the reason he pushed himself, his sister Racquel Bowens said. "His son was very important to him. He was working real hard to get in a better position in life to be able to take care of his son and do some of the things he wanted to do. He wanted to finish school and get started in his career. He wanted to purchase a house and have a nice car. I guess he wanted the American Dream."

      Greg was gunned down after he left a residence at Hyde Park Boulevard and Eucalyptus Avenue about 10 p.m. November 2. Investigators have made little progress - no motive, no arrests, no suspects.

      For four days, his family stood watch over him in the intensive care unit at Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center.

      Although she was not quite two years older than her brother, Racquel Bowens took her role as big sister seriously. The night Greg was shot was no different. Even though he was a man, a father, she thought of her responsibility to him.

      "He was my little brother, and I felt like I should've been there... to help him with whatever happened that night," she said.

      She and her mother were there at the hospital - to kiss him after he was wheeled out of surgery, to tell him he was loved, to tell him he had to make it.

      "He was not responding," Bowens said. "But the doctor was saying that he felt he could hear what I was saying. He said we should stay really positive for him and be strong and talk to him and touch as much as we possibly could so he could feel his family was there for him."

      In the days that followed, Greg regained consciousness for a while. And with his family by his bed, he tried to talk. He couldn't. So he communicated by holding his mother's hand. A squeeze meant, "yes." He was able to let them know that he was in pain, that he wanted to see his friends. But he wanted to say more.

      "That Tuesday he was trying to say something," his mother, Gail Graham, recalled. "He had tears coming out his eyes. We were trying to tell him to relax. He died that Thursday. We don't know if hew mumbling he loved us or what he was trying to say."

      By the time most of Greg's friends at work learned about the shooting, Greg had died. A guard who worked with him all those mornings continued to check passes and answer questions. But an emptiness hovered next to her.

      "I won't believe it," she said, "until I see his grave."

      Whoever killed Greg should have known that 25 years is really not enough time to say everything that one can say with a life. It is not enough time to go gray at the temples or watch a son become a man or care for an aging mother.

      Obviously the killer did not care about potential or anything else. But killers have mothers and fathers, priests, pastors, and girlfriends, who still care.

      Inglewood Police Detective Tom Chargaff is hoping someone will call with information that will help locate the killer. Someone in the neighborhood might have seen a car or heard the gunfire, or possess some other information.

      Deciding to kill somebody is a willful act. But so is deciding to remain silent. And so is allowing ourselves not to be startled by a needless death.

      A family that had had a son and a brother now has a memory. A child who had a father now had photographs.

      And Racquel Bowens is left to take care of her little brother the only way she can now. "Even though he's not physically with me, I think about him in everything I do," she said. "I'm doing it for him and me, not just myself any more."

Back to Leaving LA Page