Gang Tackled

Football star Jarvis Hicks couldn't resist the undertow of gang violence

Jarvis fled right into the heart of it. And even as Young denounces the violence, she almost mythologizes Jarvis for his street exploits after leaving Salisbury. Like the time he fought in front of a local market.

¨They jumped him, three of them,¨ she says. ¨He beat all three of them up. They couldn´t beat him. That´s why they were after him.¨

That fight is documented in sheriff´s reports. It occurred on that fateful day, April 26, in front of the Ali Market on Dixie Highway, not far from where Jarvis´ friend Steven Jennings was gunned down in 2004. Reports differ on how it began and who was involved, but what is known is that three Haitian teens were indeed beaten up during a melee.

Jarvis breaks away during another game, but ultimately he couldn´t escape the violence in Deerfield Beach.
courtesy of salisbury school
Jarvis breaks away during another game, but ultimately he couldn´t escape the violence in Deerfield Beach.
Coach Adamson´s son named all his football toys ¨Jarvis.¨
courtesy of salisbury school
Coach Adamson´s son named all his football toys ¨Jarvis.¨

One of the Haitian victims was 20-year-old Kevin Artelus, who was rendered unconscious during the fight. Artelus´ next-door neighbor is Wayne Adams, the old friend of Jerome Hicks. Adams watched from his yard as the vanquished Haitian contingency brought Artelus home in a car.

¨He was knocked out cold,¨ Adams says of his young neighbor. ¨He wasn´t moving. When they carried him inside, I thought he was dead.¨

Artelus is no stranger to the street war either. His house on SW Fifth Terrace has been shot up with bullets. A friend was shot in the buttocks in his front yard. Though Artelus was reluctant to talk about the fight at the store, he indicated that Jarvis was there at the time he was beaten, but he said the boy he knows as Jock wasn´t the one who actually hit him.

Whoever was responsible, emotions ran amok that day. Artelus´ street swarmed with Haitian kids who wanted to even the score. And Adams was told who they were blaming: Jock Hicks. As it happened, Jarvis´ older brother, John, with whom he was very close, happened to be on the street at the time visiting a neighbor. Adams watched as two Haitian youths ran after John Hicks, who´d been sitting in a car. One of their shirts came up, and Adams saw a blue steel gun in the waistband that looked like a 9mm. John fled into his friend´s house.

¨They said they were going to shoot him,¨ Adams recounts. ¨That´s when the police were called.¨

Deputies arrived at the scene and left without making an arrest.

Soon after, the street again was swarming.

¨The Haitians started coming from all corners,¨ Adams says. ¨There was ten out there; then there was 40. They were screaming, talking, walking in circles. They were so mad and angry that day. They jumped in two or three cars, and they were hanging out the windows. There were pistols, sawed-off shotguns. I saw what looked like an Uzi. I thought they would shoot anybody they didn´t like. I thought they might even shoot me.¨

Jarvis, at that time, was at Westside Park, the American stronghold near Stanley Terrace Apartments. One witness at the park would later report to deputies that three carloads of Haitians began ¨scouting¨ the area. Then one of the cars stopped and two occupants got out and pointed guns at the witness.

About that time, a gunman approached one of the Haitians´ cars parked near the apartment complex and opened fire. Glass shattered, and bullets struck Scott Simon, a Haitian teen sitting in the car´s rear passenger seat, ripping through his shoulder and arm.

With a bullet still lodged in his arm, Simon told sheriff´s Det. Walt Foster in the hospital that ¨Jock Hicks¨ was the person who shot him. Simon´s friends offered the detective little more than stony silence.

It was later that night that Jerome Hicks spoke with Adams. Then he called Jarvis.

¨I didn´t shoot nobody, Dad,¨ Jarvis told him. ¨I was there when it happened, but I didn´t shoot anyone.¨

The father listened and he believed his son.

But would anybody else?

When Jerome Hicks dubbed his youngest son ¨Jock,¨ he had no idea whether the boy would be a great athlete. The nickname wasn´t really about sports or stardom. It just sprang from his lips as he played with his beautiful baby son.

There was no mother there to call him by his given name. She left town, leaving Big Shot to raise Jock, his older brother John, and their sisters on his own. It was a group effort, really, with their grandmother and family friends playing the collective maternal role.

The father, who had been an all-county basketball player as a senior, worked too hard at a moving company every day to think much about athletic greatness anymore. He was too busy paying the mortgage on the 1,579-square-foot bungalow on SW 15th Court he bought in 1995 for $86,200.

He says he always felt blessed to have Jarvis. Not because he could play football but simply because he was a good son. But football was what distinguished Jarvis from just about everybody else in town.

Always big for his age, he started playing in grade school, initially on the line, in the trenches. He was solid, but it wasn´t until he played for the Bucks of Deerfield High that he showed just how good he was.

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