Do you remember when 21 years was old?

There was a tragic death Saturday morning. Students from St. Patrick High School were celebrating their prom and, afterwards, had made their way to Les Suites on Besserer Street. It was here that one man—a boy, really—would lose his life.

The call came in to police around 3:30 am. There’d been a fight and people had been stabbed. Brandon Volpi was stabbed in the neck and heart. He wouldn’t survive.
There has been some conjecture about what happened, but most reports indicate that Volpi had stepped into a fight, involving about 20 people, to protect a fellow student. It’s a tragedy that Volpi’s family and friends will have to deal with for quite some time.

In the wake of the attack, police are looking for this man… or boy:

18-year-old Devontay Hackett is a suspect in the killing. He is “known to police”, and considered armed and dangerous. Looking at this picture, we might be looking at the face of a killer. Certainly we’re looking at the face of someone who has had interactions with the law.

We should also recognize the sheer sadness presented to us.

A teenager is dead, and another teenager is wanted by the police. If Hackett is guilty, he may have thrown his life away, as well. It’s a waste. Even though it would be by his own doing, it is sad to see someone waste their life in such a manner.

I cannot say what put Hackett in front of Les Suites last weekend (if, in fact, he was there). And I cannot say what would lead an 18-year-old to stick a knife into the neck and chest of another 18-year-old. Justice demands that the killer be held responsible for the crime, but I’m unwilling to believe that an 18-year-old just becomes a killer.

There’s more here than one dead boy, and even as we seek justice, we should live compassion.

Post Script: Vice interviews a former young offender, now filmmaker, asking the question, how does a child turn into a bank robber?

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