ROCKVILLE – Damion Callery Jr., 18, recently graduated from Paint Branch High School and planned to begin classes at Bowie State University in a matter of days.
Then, he was killed by gunfire.
According to Montgomery County Police (MCP) spokesperson officer Rick Goodale in an Aug. 17 news release, Callery was found dead in his home after the 911 center received a report of a shooting outside a residence at 3:43 a.m. on the 14100 block of Angelton Terrace.
“The initial investigation by detectives determined that Callery, Jr. encountered an armed suspect or suspects in the backyard of his residence and was shot,” Goodale wrote.
As a student, Callery was an active member of the Paint Branch football community, Head Football Coach Michael Nesmith said. Callery played on the junior varsity team as a freshman, but unnamed circumstances kept him from competing in later years.
“He trained here (at Paint Branch) two other years, where he trained with our kids during the offseason with the anticipation and hopes of being on the team, but there (were) always different setbacks and adversity that prevented him from (competing),” Nesmith said.
Nesmith said that Callery would lift weights with the team in the weight room during the offseason, which lasts from January to August. With multiple practices and some meals together during training, the players grow close to each other.
Nesmith said he did not know why the teenager was killed.
Nesmith calls his players his extended family. He aims to help his assistant coaches and athletes focus on stories of players who were successful, rather than dwell on stories of students and former students who ended up in prison or killed.
“Be proud of them… If you only brood over the failures you wouldn’t be able to do it,” said Nesmith.
The school’s athletic department shared condolences with Callery’s family in a tweet Aug. 18.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Callery family!” according to the tweet. “Please join together to remember the life of Damion ‘Damo’ Callery! Panthers continue to support each other! #PantherStrong #RIPDamo”
One of the Paint Branch Panthers learned about the shooting through SnapChat, Nesmith said. A post said that the incident resulted in the death of one of their own, and players waited for news of a correction. However, the information proved to be correct.
Callery’s death is the most recent of four emotional blows to the varsity team since May, Nesmith said. One player’s mother, Houssainatou Boiro, 49, and sister 15-year-old Halimatou Diallo, a rising Paint Branch junior, were killed in a car crash. Another player’s father died from diabetes.
Football was not the only area in which Callery displayed his skills. The Paint Branch alum had made a name for himself during the past several years on the online music-sharing service Soundcloud. He recorded raps under the moniker Damo Dinero. Nesmith recalled challenging his players to create a rap without cussing or allusions to drugs, sex or violence, and he believed Callery’s was one of the best in the group.
“Most of the people who knew him well probably graduated, but a few kids that are left from last year’s team – most of them are taking it pretty hard,” said Nesmith. “They’re sad to see him go because he was a nice person.”
Goodale said MCP cannot establish a motive in the incident until they identify a suspect in a crime. MCP has identified no suspects since the incident. Callery’s body was taken to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, located in Baltimore, where an autopsy will be conducted to determine the cause of death.
The department continues to search for suspects in the killing as of Aug. 23. Detectives request anyone with information about the homicide to send tips to the Major Crimes Division at 240-773-5070. They also can contact Crime Solvers of Montgomery at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).
A tip that leads to the arrest of a suspect could result in a reward of up to $10,000. Callers can remain anonymous if they desire when calling the Crime Solvers Montgomery number.