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A Man With Dreams, Now Silenced

Robert Banks Jr. Slain In Hartford

May 12, 2005
By STEPHANIE REITZ, Courant Staff Writer

What Robert Banks Jr. lacked in stature, he made up for in confidence and ambition.

Banks, known to family and friends as Robbie, had dreams both modest and grand: to become an emergency medical technician, join the U.S. Coast Guard, charm pretty girls with his favorite pick-up line, and someday get married and raise a son.

Banks, 20, of East Windsor, had little chance to pursue many of those goals before he was killed Friday in Hartford while standing in a Branford Street driveway with his cousin, Karl Miller. Police have said he may have been killed as part of an intimidation campaign against a Hartford family whose members witnessed a February homicide.

Miller was treated at St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center for a minor gunshot wound to the buttocks, and released, police said. Banks died at the hospital.

Police were still investigating the homicide Wednesday and no arrests had been made.

Banks and Miller were visiting a friend whose family, police say, has been the target of an intimidation campaign by a loosely knit group of young people. That group is said to be angry that some members of that family have agreed to testify against two men accused of killing 15-year-old Lorenzo Morgan Rowe of Hartford in February.

Late Tuesday, the Branford Street family was placed in a state protective custody program.

Banks' family said Wednesday that they have not heard specifics from police about what occurred in the family's driveway, nor have they pressed Karl Miller for specifics, because of his injury and his grief.

"We felt when [police] find out something, they'll let us know," Banks' mother, Sheila, said Wednesday. "It doesn't make a difference for us right now because it doesn't bring him back."

Sheila Banks, of East Windsor, and her ex-husband, Robert Banks Sr., of East Hartford, reminisced with other family members Wednesday about their son's life in a brief respite from funeral planning.

They told of a young man who loved boats, dreamed of traveling the world with the Coast Guard, prided himself on keeping a neat appearance, was an avid basketball fan, and could make easy conversation with people of all ages.

At 5-feet-7, he also had a penchant for flirting with tall women. "He always used the same silly pick-up line, `Hey, haven't I seen you on the cover of Vibe magazine?'" said his sister, Nicole Banks.

Robert Banks attended parochial school as a child, then went through East Hartford's school system as a teen and graduated from East Hartford High School in 2003. He played on the school's football team as a freshman, and a school official described him Wednesday as a respectful and friendly student.

"I know it sounds almost trite to say that he was a really nice kid with a lot of friends, but that really is what he was," said Dennis Lyon, an assistant principal at the school. "He was very mellow."

While in school, Banks worked at the Sterling Manor health care center in East Hartford as a dietary aide who served residents and took trays of food to their rooms.

After graduation, he also worked at a men's clothing store in Springfield, before being hired by Budget Car Rental near Bradley International Airport earlier this year, family members said.

Banks planned to spend part of the summer in Alabama caring for his paternal grandmother, then would have started EMT classes and courses at Capital Community College in the fall.

His funeral will be Saturday in Windsor.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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