Less than two years after graduating from Tara High School and joining the Army National Guard — and just one day after his 20th birthday — Charles Bowah was found shot to death on Eddie Robinson Sr. Drive Monday morning.
Baton Rouge police are investigating his death as a homicide. Bowah, of 1115 Parlange Drive, died from an apparent gunshot wound, said police spokesman Sgt. Don Coppola Jr.
Coppola said authorities found Bowah's body in the 800 block of Eddie Robinson Sr. Drive around 11:20 a.m. Monday. The coroner was called to the scene.
Coppola said later Monday that investigations revealed the shooting occurred about one block away, in the 800 block of Peach Street. Bowah ran from Peach Street, collapsed and succumbed to his injuries closer to Eddie Robinson Drive.
Relatives and friends gathered Monday evening at the house on Parlange Drive where Bowah lived with his mom and stepdad, both refugees from Africa who moved to the United States many years ago. Several were weeping uncontrollably and holding onto each other for support after having received the news of their loss only hours earlier.
Bowah's older sister Doris Glotto said he was involved in JROTC during high school and joined the National Guard not long after graduating in 2016. He had recently traveled to Texas to help rescue and recovery efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and he was taking classes to become a medical assistant in the National Guard.
Bowah was heavily involved in high school activities, including the wrestling team and swim team, his family said.
"Charles loved to play. … He was not a fighting person," his mother said, holding tightly onto a framed photograph of Bowah and his brother as little boys. "Anywhere he went people knew him and loved him — young people, old people, everyone."
Glotto said her brother was "very goofy" and a true people person.
"Just because he was good, he thought everybody was good," she said. "We're just trying to figure out who did this and why. If you hated him that much, why?"
Alice Bowah said her son left the house Monday morning to pay bills and never returned. The car he was driving was apparently stolen after the shooting, but his phone and keys were found in his pockets, according to family.
Racheal Burkett, 39, owns the house on Eddie Robinson Drive where the body was found in the backyard. She said her son's friend, Brodrick Miles, saw the body near the back steps when he came over to play video games with another family member around 11:10 a.m.
Burkett said she spoke with neighbors who reported hearing at least one gunshot about 15 minutes earlier.
Miles, 18, said the body appeared to have a gunshot wound to the head. He ran back to his house immediately after seeing it because he didn't have a phone with him and called Burkett's son at school, who called her at work.
Burkett said she rushed home from work at the Raising Cane's downtown, running a few red lights on the way, and immediately called police.
"I was so shook. I was shaking," she said. "I hadn't ever seen anything like that. I just couldn't believe it."
Burkett has lived in the neighborhood off Government Street for several years and said the street is generally very quiet, filled with mostly older residents who own their homes. Her four teenage children — three sons and a daughter — all live with her.
"I don't normally come outside because of this stuff," she said. "I have kids. … I just never would have expected anything like this."