Henry and Kemp met in the seventh grade and soon after became the best of friends. They bonded through their similar fears and hatred towards the older high school boys that bullied them.
Kemp called Henry his “first and best friend.”
In April 14, 1988, Henry and another friend, Chris, came to Kemp’s apartment to hang out. Kemp did what he always did when his friends came over, he brought out his mom’s guns. She was a captain at the Army reserves so she kept three guns in the house.
The .38-caliber was Kemp’s favorite because it reminded him of an old vintage movie. It was also the only one of the three that was kept fully loaded. His mom never knew this but every time a friend came over, Kemp would whip out the gun.
Kemp did what he always did in front of his friends. He emptied out the bullets, spun the gun on his index finger, pretended to put a bullet into the slot before pointing and “shooting” the gun.
“I can actually remember smiling as I pulled the trigger, ready to shout, ‘Gotcha!’ when I made them jump.”
However, this time the gun went off. Chris and Henry both had their backs to Kemp when the gun fired. Chris looked back at Kemp and they both waited on Henry’s reaction.
Before he knew it, the paramedics and his mom were at the apartment and while he sobbed saying, “Please tell me he’s OK, please tell me he’s OK,” the paramedic simply said, “He’s gone.”
Henry’s family forgave Kemp and did not press any charges although the Brooklyn DA charged him with about 17 offenses. Henry’s family said they would rather not destroy two young lives instead of one. Kemp simply got one year of counseling because of the family’s grace.
25 years later, although he says the death is still fresh in his mind, he is on his way to becoming one of the happiest people he knows. He isn’t haunted by Henry in his dreams, nor is he guilt-ridden and self-pitiful. He is healing.