Steps away from where he was shot by Boston police after an alleged foot chase, family and friends of Burrell Ramsey-White gathered near the Tent City apartments Friday night for a candlelight vigil to remember the 26-year-old and to ask why he was killed.
Supporters and relatives recounted stories about Ramsey-White, whom they knew as Bo, and lit candles as the crowd spilled onto Yarmouth Place in the South End. They remembered him as a person who liked to play basketball, make music, and cook.
Ramsey-White’s brother and sister said after the emotional event that he had a habit of using other people’s things, from a toothbrush to part of a steak dinner. But, they said, he was good-natured and generous.
“He might come in and take a piece of steak, but if he thought you had a problem with it, he’d be back in an hour with a box of steaks,” said Ramsey-White’s brother, Rha-Shon Sheffield, 23.
Ramsey-White, of Dorchester, was shot Tuesday shortly before 6 p.m. by a Boston police officer. Police have said that Ramsey-White fled after a traffic stop and refused to drop a gun before the officer shot him. He had several prior drug and weapons offenses, according to court records.
On Friday night, however, Ramsey-White’s sister said her brother was not violent. A couple of residents of Tent City, where he lived for some of his teenage years, said they saw the shooting, but did not see Ramsey-White holding a gun. Boston police and the Suffolk district attorney’s office are investigating the incident.
Standing next to two green dumpsters where she said her brother was shot, Nikia Ramsey, 27, questioned why police fired if Ramsey-White was standing in a corner.
“From everything I’m hearing, he had no reason to shoot at my brother who’s in a corner right here,” Ramsey said of the police officer who allegedly shot her brother.
She said Boston police have not visited her mother’s home in Dorchester. Ramsey-White had two brothers and two sisters, Ramsey said.
Anthony Thomas, 24, who said he is a childhood friend of Ramsey-White, asked why police pulled over the car Ramsey-White was in.
Many of the dozens of people at the vigil spoke of justice, and a few encouraged attendees to talk to police and call the mayor’s hot line.
But between the shouts for justice and prayers broken by sobs Friday night, those attending the vigil managed to remain positive in their remembrances of Ramsey-White.
After the event, Ramsey fondly recalled how her brother was known to say, “I’ll be back, I’ll be back,” before leaving a gathering, but he would usually never return.
A month ago, Ramsey said, she threw a surprise birthday party for her best friend. Ramsey-White stayed until the friend arrived, then left with an “I’ll be back.” Ramsey thought he was gone for the night.
But he returned an hour later, she said, bearing roses for her friend. It was a gesture she said was typical of her brother, who she said loved to show affection.
“He always told you he loved you,” she said. “No matter what, he told you he loved you.”