When Shawn Clark enlisted in the US Marine Corps in 2001, he was moved by love of country and a sense of duty. But he also had an eye on the future and a longstanding dream.
An avid skateboarder, Clark wanted to open a skate shop of his own and hoped to earn the money he needed during his military service.
“It was part of his master plan,” his uncle, Brian Clark, said Wednesday. “Skateboarding was in his blood.”
On Tuesday afternoon, Shawn Clark was gunned down outside his popular Malden shop, Patriot Skateboards, and died later in the day. Clark, 39, who served three tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to his uncle, was married with two young boys.
“He was very devoted to them,” his uncle said. “He’s a man’s man, but he went out to buy a minivan for the kids.”
Shawn Clark taught his boys, now 10 and 8, how to skate “as soon as they could walk,” his uncle said.
Shawn Clark grew up in Somerville and Everett, his uncle said, and started skateboarding at a young age. He married his wife, Melissa, about a decade ago while he was on leave from the military, his uncle said. The couple married on a July Fourth weekend, in keeping with Shawn’s patriotism.
But he also embraced the free-spirited, rebellious skateboard culture, his uncle said. He lobbied for new skateboard parks in the area and organized numerous skateboarding events.
His shops, first in Saugus and then Malden, became fixtures of the skateboarding community, and many teenagers looked to him as a big brother.
“He was totally gray, but he was really a big kid,” Brian Clark said. “He was very much a skateboarder at heart.”
The brazen shooting outside his Malden store, in broad daylight on a busy street, followed an apparent struggle that left clothing and shell casings scattered in the street. Brian Clark said authorities had provided the family with little information, but said the altercation began at the shop’s counter before spilling outside. That has led the family to believe that Clark was resisting a robbery, he said. “He’s the kind of guy that won’t back down.”
Brian Clark said he did not think his nephew kept a gun at the shop, but that the store had security cameras, including one with a view outside the front of the shop. “I’m really hoping they provide some information,” he said.
The owner of a nearby shop said he saw two men running from the scene. No arrests had been made Tuesday, and police had not released details about potential suspects.
Funeral arrangements were pending. The family may bury Clark in his military uniform but is also considering a skateboarding T-shirt, in tribute to that part of his life, his uncle said.
“He was definitely a unique combination,” he said.