BALTIMORE — Dante "Tater" Barksdale never gave up on himself or his city.
On Sunday, the man so many call the heart and soul of Safe Streets, was killed in the neighborhood that he grew up in.
As a reporter in this city, I have covered and talked with Barksdale countless times at Safe Streets Violence Interruption events over the last few years.
He personified making the most out of a second chance.
On Monday Mayor Brandon Scott held a virtual vigil with his friends and family.
Dante's oldest brother Alvin talked about a conversation he remembered that turned his brother's life around.
“My mother said what y’all want to do with your life? I was in my early 40’s and Dante was in his mid 30’s and he said I just want a job where I can just run my mouth and help people.”
From there he found his second family and calling.
He became the heart and soul of Safe Streets.
Along the way he earned his master's degree and wrote a book.
Gardnel Carter is a Safe Streets Community Liason.
He met Barksdale when he was incarcerated and saw him grow from an ex-con to community icon.
“Dante was a champion for Safe Streets," Carter said. "Dante was a hero for Baltimore City, he just had this unselfish love about them projects and just helping to change peoples lives.”
Dedra Layne was one of Dante's teachers in grad school.
She said he was the only student to get an A and that he taught her so much.
He wouldn't leave her alone until she applied to become the Safe Streets Director.
“He inspired me to go hard, to dig deeper and to stay connected to our young people," Layne said. "He would say Dedra you got what they need. You walking giving away love like it’s water, they need that.”
Calvin Harper is a Violence Interrupter for Safe Streets.
He said Barksdale was always there for him and helped him turn his life around.
“Tater believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself," Harper said. "He encouraged me to create positive visions of myself which lead to me achieving goals that I thought weren’t possible.”
Mayor Brandon Scott considered Barksdale a friend and brother in the fight to save lives in Baltimore.
“What he would say to me, he would say what he always said," Scott said. "Brandon we got to go deeper. We got to do more to stop this violence. He would continue as he always did to challenge me to be better than I was the day before. To challenge me to be myself and be unapologetic and be better by being different than those before me.”
Dante Tater Barksdale survived the hardest parts of Baltimore and thrived by helping others get through their own turmoil's.
I’m grateful that I got the chance to get to know him and see his passion for peace firsthand.
Scott is lighting up City Hall orange in honor of Barksdale and Safe Streets.
Family and friends are holding a candlelight vigil for Tater at the Edmondson Village Shopping Center lower parking lot.
It will start at 6:30 on Thursday.
Baltimore Police are still looking for the person who killed him.
If you know anything there’s a whole city hoping for answers.
Metro Crime Stoppers is offering a $7,000 for any information that leads to an arrest. You can leave an anonymous tip by calling 1-866-756-2587.