PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A chance meeting in a Providence post-high school education program that’s geared toward getting dropouts back on track put two potential enemies face to face.
What happened next might surprise friends of the victim and murderer in a May 2014 homicide on Wendell Street.
Davon Taylor, 20, an aspiring rapper known as Splashy Roc, was shot while in a car with his 15-year old sister Destiny Taylor, who was injured in the drive-by.
“These kids nowadays need something to do with their lives besides tearing each other apart senselessly,” Taylor’s grandfather LaMonte Gill said after the shooting.
“He was a friend of a rival who killed my friend. So, it was kind of a bump-heads situation.”
Angel Santiago, who is now “trying to do something with his life,” knew Taylor well.
They hung out in the neighborhoods near the shooting scene, and shared ideas about music, and life.
“Heartbreaking,” Santiago said. “I had great respect for him, his art.”
When asked if he wondered if he could’ve run into similar violence, he nodded his head.
“Yeah,” Santiago said. “That could’ve been me.”
Santiago said he was a junior with “pretty good grades and goals” when his friend was murdered. The shock left him struggling as he entered his senior year.
He left high school a couple of classes short of graduating, and that made him a perfect fit for a city education program known as Multiple Pathways, which allows dropouts to complete the classes they failed.
Advanced Course Network classes can also earn them college credit.
Santiago wanted all of that and more, but when he walked into the Juanita Sanchez Educational Complex where the program is held, there he was: a friend of Joseph Taylor, who is now serving a life sentence for the 2014 murder of Davon Taylor. (Joseph Taylor, who pleaded guilty in 2015, is not related to the victims.)
“He was a friend of a rival who killed my friend,” Santiago said, referring to his new classmate. “I walked in and he was already in the room. So, it was kind of a bump-heads situation.”
The two would-be enemies didn’t bump heads, instead realizing they were there for the same reason. Both want to be back on a graduation path for better options than the street life that claimed Taylor’s life and sent Joseph Taylor to prison.
“There’s no hatred toward [my classmate who was Joseph Taylor’s friend.] No hatred. No, not at all,” Santiago said, adding that time in the classroom together helped ease the tension. “It helped a lot because we had a friendly conversation and I saw that we shouldn’t have been beefing. That was childish.”
Santiago’s new goal is far from childish. After he gets his diploma, he wants to go to college to pursue a career in law enforcement and maybe even become “a DEA Agent.”
“It took me a little longer,” Santiago said. “But I’m going to get there.”
To find out more about the Providence School Department’s Multiple Pathways program, click here.