‘He didn’t bother nobody’

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Not much good comes from the pointless shooting of a headphone-wearing young man walking a few blocks home from a local market on a weekday night.

But some people in Franklin are giving it their best to make a bad situation better.

Harley Bethea was shot and killed Monday night on the street where he lived. Police say the 21-year-old Bethea was not the intended target of a gunman, but that the only reason Bethea died while holding his sister’s hand on Mariner Street off South Street was that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The family — Harley, sister Addie and mother Karen — had moved to Franklin in November, a family sporadically separated through the years into foster care.

&uot;Me and my brother have been through a lot together,&uot; Addie said. &uot;We didn’t have an easy life.&uot;

During their time in foster care, Addie said, &uot;We promised to protect each other. In some ways I feel like I let him down.&uot;

Addie was home Monday night when she heard a commotion on the street, two doors from the house. She saw her brother on the pavement, bleeding.

Paramedics pronounced him dead on the scene near a stop sign at Delk Street, the city’s first murder since 2004.

&uot;He fell at a stop sign,&uot; his mother, Karen Bethea, cried during an interview Thursday in the small duplex she shared with her son and daughter. &uot;There’s a message in that. Stop this violence. Stop it.&uot;

Since then, family and neighbors have been rallying, showing support for the family while trying to raise enough money to pay for a funeral.

Quiet vigils have been held near the spot where Bethea died, and on Thursday night, a gospel group performed for about two hours on the eastern end of Mariner Street, attended by some 50 people.

The songs talked of praising God, of finding peace, of getting rid of guns and drugs, of making sense of a senseless act.

In the meantime, a small measure of peace may have been realized by the quick arrest of one suspect in the shooting, an arrest the police say was expedited by citizens’ input.

Lt. T.W. Whitt, spokesman for the Franklin Police Department, had high praise for members of the community who helped police with tips that led to the arrest, and for the police who worked the case so hard.

&uot;From the time they got the call till the time he was arrested, they did not eat or sleep until this guy was arrested,&uot; he said Thursday. &uot;I’m so proud of them I’m about to bust.&uot;

At Thursday’s vigil, Addie addressed the crowd, breaking down at one point while remembering her brother, about the music he loved, the people he touched, about not taking relationships for granted. And she talked about the waste of taking a young man’s life.

&uot;He didn’t bother nobody,&uot; she said.