The music cranked as party-goers boogied, drank, got high and caroused, loudly carrying on like they did most nights at Perry Homes.
The combustible mix gave folks in the sprawling public housing project many reasons to be on edge. A wrong word, slight or misperceived glance might be all it took to set something off.
One night, the normal din turned darker than usual. Someone ended an argument with a knife. A man held his guts as blood sputtered through his fingers.
Six-year-old Robbie Singleton, a veteran of such gatherings, was mesmerized. He didn’t cry. He didn’t run away. He inched closer and absorbed the frantic atmosphere that had become routine. Even so, the boy knew it wasn’t right. He didn’t belong there, not where adults acted like fools and parties ended in bloodshed.