“LIVE LONG” were the words written across the sole of a white Nike sneaker amidst white, pink and red roses in full bloom sitting atop Joe’s casket as Alec Bose watched his younger brother put to rest on Friday.
“RIP Joe Joe.”
“Love you always, love!”
“You know you my mans.”
At Galilee Baptist Church in Maryland, home-going service attendees blanketed a pair of Air Force Ones with snippets of thought dedicated to their 20-year-old friend, classmate and family member.
According to Norfolk Police, third-year journalism student at Hampton University, Joseph “Joe” Bose, was fatally shot at a weekend party near West 35th Street and Killam Avenue about 3:15 a.m. last Saturday. According to Norfolk Police Sgt. Daryl Jarvis, he died at the scene.
“My brother didn’t die, he was killed,” said Joe’s older brother, Alec, a May 2015 VCU graduate and former Residential Assistant and orientation leader. “He didn’t lose his life, it was taken.”
Last week, Edison High School students painted “the senior rock” in memory of Joe, a fallen 2013 alum. On Wednesday, Nov. 4, Hampton University sponsored a home-going service at HU’s Ogden Hall. Two days later, Joe’s family held his home-going service in Maryland and Alexandria, Va.
Alec posted on Facebook shortly after the Edison rock was repainted to commemorate his little brother. He said he has seen the names of one too many people he loves on that rock.
“I’m not sure if I’ll be O.K. even though I keep telling myself I will be. But I have to try, I have to keep moving and live my life with purpose. Because that’s what my brother would have wanted and I have to do anything and everything in my power to honor his memory and take care of my family,” Bose’s post read.
He ended the post by thanking the students of Edison High School for the tribute and said his family asked anyone attending the funeral wear formal attire with their “freshest pair of sneakers” to honor Joe’s love of shoes.
Students came home from colleges across the country, many who hadn’t seen each other since their graduation from high school, to stand together at Mount Comfort Cemetery and say goodbye to their friend and classmate.
“He was my role model,” said Sean Duffer, a close friend of the Bose family who grew up with both brothers. “As a little brother (Joe) would just give me advice — Joe would sit me down and we’d have real talks. If I wanted to do something that could clearly get me in trouble and put me at risk Joe wouldn’t let me do it. He was literally my conscience,” Duffer said.
Now, more than a week after the fatal shooting, and just days after Joe’s funeral, the Bose family still doesn’t know who shot Joe. Nobody has been charged in the death; the police have no suspects.
According to the Virginian-Pilot, detectives know people saw Joe get shot because it happened at a weekend party, but not enough witnesses have talked to police.
But Joe is not the first to die from gun violence in the Norfolk area this school year. He is the second youth to lose his life from gunfire and the fifth college student shot near Old Dominion University’s campus since Oct. 16.
According to police data, in Norfolk alone there were 14 homicides in August, 24 in September and 21 in October of this year.
“Our family has suffered the most horrific loss a family can experience, the loss of our son,” said Kim Bose, Joe’s mother. “Made from complete innocence and love, snatched from our family in the most violent, incomprehensible way,” she said.
Alec Bose said he understands there’s something to be said about constitutional rights, but hopes his little brother’s death sparks a serious conversation about the implications of gun violence.
According to a 2014 report by the Center for American Progress, the second-most frequent cause of death for people between the ages of 15 and 24 in 2010 was homicide, and 83 percent of those homicides were committed with a gun.
The report states that every year, about 2.5 million Americans die from a range of causes, but less than 3 percent are under the age of 25. In contrast, when looking at gun-related deaths, the corresponding narrative is very different. In 2010, more than 20 percent of individuals killed by guns were under age 25 — totaling more than 6,500 deaths.
Furthermore, homicide was the fifth leading cause of death for individuals between the ages of 35 and 44 in 2010, and guns accounted for 68 percent of those deaths. Homicide was not even in the top 10 causes of death for individuals ages 45 to 54.
In 2010, more than 6,000 people between the ages of 15 and 24 were killed by guns, while 7,024 people in the same age group were killed in motor vehicle accidents. According to the report, if the current trends continue, gun deaths among this age group are projected to outnumber car accident deaths this year for the first time since 1994.
Widening the scope of this issue, Forbes reported in August that at least 32,000 people per year are killed by guns in the United States. This number may not be the most accurate depiction of the problem, because not all gun-related deaths are reported.
In January 2013, President Barack Obama ordered the Centers for Disease Control to study the causes for gun violence, but the CDC has done little to address the issue for “fear and funding shortfalls” that come with potentially upsetting the gun lobby. Hence, the Washington Post reported, some researchers still actively avoid studying gun violence.
Guns kill. People kill,” Alec Bose said. “We need to get out of this mindset where somehow taking a life, whether it’s justified or not, is a reality of our nation. It doesn’t have to be and I really hope people can start to at least think about it before they go to defend guns or even worse — reach for it.”
Although words like “funding” do little to assuage the grief felt by families affected by gun violence, the Bose family and Hampton University are rallying the community to support a positive cause.
In Joe’s honor, the Bose family and Hampton University’s Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications are establishing the Joseph K. Bose Endowed Scholarship.
Brett Pulley, Dean of Hampton University’s Scripps School of Journalism, said every year, in perpetuity, a journalism student will receive a scholarship in Joe’s name.
“A plaque will also hang in the atrium of the Scripps Howard School, memorializing the scholarship and reminding every single student who walks through that building, that a bright and promising young man named Joseph Bose also walked those hallowed corridors,” Pulley said.
Pulley and his wife, Stacey, have contributed the first $500 toward establishing the memorial scholarship. Pulley and the Bose family ask others to please match their gift, or give whatever they can.
If just 49 other people just match their $500 contribution, Pulley said the fund will have a total of $25,000 — the amount needed to fully endow the scholarship.
Once that’s accomplished, Pulley said the Joseph K. Bose Endowed Scholarship will live on, proudly, for as long as Hampton University is in existence.
The family and dean ask to please make checks payable to “Hampton University – Joseph K. Bose Endowed Scholarship.” Mailed to: Brett Pulley, Dean, The Scripps Howard School of Journalism & Communications, Hampton University, Hampton, VA 23663.
I need families to know that my son is just like your son and your child is my son . . . innocence. Joe represents us all — the best that life has to offer,” Kim Bose said.
Executive Editor, Sarah King
Sarah is a junior studying political science and philosophy of law. She is a copyeditor for INK Magazine and reporter for the Capital News Service wire. Last spring, Sarah worked as an editorial intern for Congressional Quarterly Researcher and SAGE Business Researcher in Washington, D.C. // Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn