Family and friends are mourning the death of Samuel Kwarteng, a 2013 Mount Vernon graduate who was shot and killed early Thursday morning near Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.
Kwarteng, who was known as Sam K to friends, was a 20-year-old senior at VCU where he was on track to graduate in December with an electrical engineering degree, according to a VCU spokesman.
Emmanuel E. Jordan, 20, has been charged with manslaughter in Kwarteng’s death.
Few details have been released about the shooting, but Kwarteng was allegedly shot by Jordan shortly after midnight during an altercation on the front porch of a house not far from the school.
Kwarteng is survived by his parents and two younger sisters, 17 and 13. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family pay for funeral expenses.
No funeral information has been announced yet, however there will be a vigil Saturday night at Muddy Hole Farm Park at 6 p.m. (see map).
Tributes to Kwarteng poured in on social media on Thursday and Friday. Many friends found themselves at a loss trying to understand how a person known for his upbeat attitude and dedication to academics could die in such a violent manner.
“He’s not the type of guy to be in a situation like that,” said Joshua Bekoe, who graduated from Mount Vernon with Kwarteng and had known him since they attended Walt Whitman Middle School together. “I’m baffled.”
Mount Vernon basketball coach Lou Golden knew Kwarteng from when he played freshman and junior varsity basketball at the school. Even after he decided not to try out for varsity, Golden said Kwarteng was a regular at games and open gyms at the school. Kwarteng would come back even after going to college, and Golden said he appreciated the example he set to younger kids at the school.
“From what I saw, there was not a bad bone in his body,” Golden said. “Just an all-around good kid.”
‘That’s why people loved him’
Brittany Asante, Kwarteng’s girlfriend, had known him since he was 14. She described him a “goofy” boyfriend who loved to joke around, but also as a person who took his studies seriously and tried to motivate others to do the same.
“He was a genius,” Asante said Friday afternoon as she drove with Kwarteng’s friends to a vigil at VCU. “It really inspired me. He had really big dreams of owning businesses. Sam was aiming blow up big in [electrical engineering], and help his family.”
The couple shared each other’s locations on their phones, and Asante said Kwarteng was typically “at home sleeping or at school studying.”
“He was always knew how to put a smile on your face,” Asante said. “He wasn’t the type of person who liked to dwell on sad situations. No matter what Sam was doing, he was always trying to show you the happier side.”
Derrick Adjei considered Kwarteng an older brother, having lived with him in the Pinewood neighborhood since he was 11. Adjei’s family hosted Kwarteng while his parents were overseas. Adjei and Kwarteng bonded, and Adjei said Kwarteng’s outgoing nature helped him become more extroverted.
“I was always book smart. He was a lot more courageous,” said Adjei, who is also a VCU student. “He would show me what was possible. He was a person that took me out of my shell.”
Kwarteng was actually younger than most of his classmates at Mount Vernon, having skipped a grade in elementary school, his friends said. Few of his peers realized the age difference though, as Kwarteng excelled academically and carried himself with a confident, outgoing nature. Friends described him as a driven yet typical teenager who enjoyed sports and video games, and was a regular at the Muddy Hole Farm Park basketball courts.
“He was always mature,” said Jeff Basoah, a Mount Vernon classmate. “You’d never know he was younger.”
Basoah remembers Kwarteng as a welcoming figure when Basoah transferred from T.C. Williams his junior year. Basaoh fondly recalls late-night phone calls from Kwarteng, where the easy-going conversation from his friend would make an hour or so breeze by. Basaoh said he would sometimes get frustrated that Sam kept him up so late, but could only shake his head at his friend.
“That’s why people loved him,” Basoah said. “He was just so … he was just Sam.”
Kwaku Diawuo attended Mount Vernon with Kwarteng and was later Sam’s roommate at VCU. Diawuo said that when he was struggling to pass a math class prior to graduation last semester, Kwarteng would take time to tutor him.
“He was one of those people who always had your back,” Diawuo said.
Kwarteng’s intellect and generosity, combined with a magnetic personality, is what made him stand out from the crowd, Adjei said.
“I don’t think there’s many people like that,” Adjei said. “He’s a very special person. He embodied a special type of person that you don’t see every day.”