Brandon Jackson was always an easy guy to read—literally.
Jackson’s tattoos told you exactly what mattered most to him: his family. Seven of his tats bear the names of his mom, grandmother and siblings.
"Brandon always kept his family first," said Enre Chiles, Brandon's cousin.
Now Jackson’s family is left to wonder why the 18-year-old Parkville High School senior was shot and killed as he hung out with friends early Sunday morning at the Exxon station on McClean Boulevard. The police have no suspects and no motive beyond a possible argument.
Jackson lived in the 3100 block of Sixth Ave. in the heart of Carney. In interviews with Parkville Patch, his family said Jackson had dreams of one day owning a business after graduating from high school this spring.
His relatives described him as a fun-loving young man who loved listening and performing rap music and who was an avid fan of football.
Brandon’s grandmother, Gloria Jackson, said her grandson's cheerful attitude always helped to keep her grounded.
"He was so playful—I used to tell him to quit playing all the time and grow up, but that's just the kind of boy he was," she said. "Even when there was something wrong, I never knew him to be a depressed child—he was always the one telling me, 'Mimi, it's gonna be OK.’"
She said she was comforted by a song, "Yesterday" by Leona Lewis, that says even though the future can be stolen, no one can take away the past.
"That's how I feel about this now,” she said. “They took him away from me, my hopes and dreams, but they can't take my memories of him."
According to his grandmother, Brandon loved his tattoos, which represented his family. On one arm he had a tattoo of an angel and the word "Yaya"—Brandon's nickname for his younger sister, also named Gloria.
"The very first tattoo he ever got was my name on his neck," said his grandmother.
Brandon also had the first name of his mother, Tonya Jackson, tattooed on one of his arms.
He also had a scroll tattooed on his arm that bore the names of his other brothers and sisters: Bryan, 18, also a Parkville High School student; Marcus and Neiman, 13, who attend Pine Grove Middle School; and Brittani, 22.
Tricia Guy, a Parkville High School employee and Brandon’s godmother, explained that Brandon could at times be frustrating, but all of that didn’t matter.
“He was so loving and kind—he tried his best—we’re all human and we fail sometimes, but he never wanted to give up,” Guy said.
Guy explained that Brandon was well liked by his teachers and classmates, many of whom called him by his nickname, "Dolo."
“Even when he wasn’t at his best, he had a smile that could melt you—you’d think ‘OK, Brandon. You can get away with it this time,’” she said.
In addition to being interested in starting a business, Jackson also talked about continuing his education or joining the military, Guy said.
Jackson was a football fan, and wore the number 42 when he played for the Parkville Knights during his junior year. His love for rap music kept him rapping and rhyming, Guy said.
On a Facebook memorial page, students have been writing condolences for the young man’s family and expressing how much they will miss him.
One commenter on the page, Imani Wilson, wrote:
“Everyone is saying so many nice things, and I gotta hand it to you its [sic] not just one type of social group. You basically have all of Parkville and then some backing you up and showing you love. You get all this love b/c clearly that’s the type of love you put out … like they say there will never be another Brandon ‘Dolo’ Jackson, that’s for sure.”
Brandon’s sister Brittani Jackson said she was surprised to see so much support.
“I never knew he knew so many people," she said. "There’s people from his school and from other schools—clearly he had a big life outside of home.”
Parkville High School will have grief counselors available for students on Wednesday.
The memorial service for Brandon Jackson will be held on Thursday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Gary P. March Funeral Home in West Baltimore.
His funeral will be held at Victorious Ministries, the church where he worshipped, on Friday at 10:30 a.m.