.

Kirkwood Gathers to Remember 'A Most Beautiful Grandson'

Xavier Arnold was an Army Reservist, but he didn't lose his life in some faraway battlefield of war. It was on a bike trail in his own hometown.

Residents light candles for a vigil in memory of Xavier Arnold on Saturday, Dec. 28, two days after he was shot during a robbery attempt as he and two friends walked along a bike path in Kirkwood. PHOTO CREDIT: Péralte Paul
Residents light candles for a vigil in memory of Xavier Arnold on Saturday, Dec. 28, two days after he was shot during a robbery attempt as he and two friends walked along a bike path in Kirkwood. PHOTO CREDIT: Péralte Paul
KIRKWOOD — Some were family, close friends and fellow soldiers. Others, fellow neighborhood residents, simply wanted to pay their respects and take a stand against crime.

All who gathered for the candlelight vigil at the end of Warren Street — under the steady rain of a late Saturday afternoon — came to support a family who lost their son just a day after Christmas.

Xavier Arnold was an Army Reservist, but he didn't lose his life in some faraway battlefield of war. It was on a bike trail in his own hometown.

He was "a most beautiful grandson that anyone would want to have," Arnold's grandmother, Christine Arnold, told East Atlanta Patch. "He was a great kid."

If there was any salve to the anger and frustration Kirkwood has felt since the 21-year-old practical jokester was gunned down on Dec. 26, it was the news the suspected gunman in the robbery had been arrested earlier on Saturday.

The suspected shooter — one of two involved in the robbery of Arnold, his girlfriend and another friend — is 14.

Charged with murder and armed robbery, his age underscores the fact that many of the serious crimes to hit Southeast Atlanta involve too many juveniles.

Though she expressed relief one suspect is in custody, the events defy reason, Arnold's grandmother said.

"What you did was so senseless," she said. "How could you even think about taking another life and you're so young yourself?"

Arnold's mother, Nichole Cochran, addressed the crowd and thanked them for their support and urged everyone to get involved in being active in the neighborhood.

Even if it's nothing more than calling the police when something doesn't seem right, or letting would-be trouble makers they are being watched, that can make a difference, she said.

"I let them know that I recognize their face," Cochran said. "If I see them loitering, I call the police to let them know no loitering is allowed in my neighborhood."

But if the community remains uninvolved and silent, things will remain status quo.

"If only one voice and one life is taken and nobody does anything, then it'll keep going."

The vigil was a chance not only for the neighborhood to pledge a renewed commitment combating crime and getting involved, but to celebrate Arnold's life.

His commanding officer, Capt. Jermaine Anderson, remembered Arnold as a creative student at the Savannah College of Art and Design and a practical joker.

"He's a character," Anderson said.

Last year for Halloween, Arnold went in costume as R&B singer Chris Brown.

"He dyed his hair blond. he thought it was rinse-out dye."

It wasn't and Army regulations stipulate those in uniform can't come to drills in any non-natural colored hair.

"He and I had a long conversation about it," Anderson recounted. "But in the end, we all laughed about it."

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »