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A tale of two brothers Decorated officer's troubled younger sibling is homicide victim

Buffalo Police Officer Cedric Littlejohn and his teenage half-brother, Ke'one, have their father in common.

But their lives could not have been more different.

Officer Littlejohn is a decorated cop. Ke'one, who had run away from a group home for troubled youths, was gunned down in broad daylight Thursday. Ke'one Littlejohn, 16, was chased down Sherman Street and shot several times, right in the Ferry/Fillmore District where his big brother works.

The teen was taken by ambulance to Erie County Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

One of the police officers responding to the crime scene recognized the victim and called Officer Littlejohn to tell him the tragic news, authorities said. "He's taking it really bad," said the police officer's wife, who added Littlejohn was in seclusion after the shooting. "He's still grieving."

Homicide detectives say that Ke'one was chased by at least one man wearing a black hoodie covering his face.

The shooting happened near a known drug house, said Lt. Kenneth M. Bienko, but it was unclear Friday whether Ke'one had any connection to it.

A couple of witnesses said they saw the shooting from afar, but so far the police have no solid leads, Bienko said.

Ke'one is the 13th homicide victim in Buffalo this year.

The teenager's family says Ke'one had faced many difficulties in his short life.

Ke'one's mother is serving a five-year prison sentence for setting fire to a woman's apartment in 2002. The same year his mother went to prison, Ke'one's father -- who was also Officer Littlejohn's father -- died unexpectedly of an illness.

"No father, no mother . . . You can fill in the blanks," said Rhonda Henderson, Ke'one and Officer Littlejohn's cousin.

Ke'one had spent time at juvenile detention center and had recently run away from a group home, police and family said.

He was enrolled at Grover Cleveland High School but had rarely attended classes, Henderson said.

He wasn't living anywhere in particular and was crashing at a distant relative's home near where he was killed, Henderson said. Family members also heard talk that Ke'one may have been involved with a street gang.

"He was not an angel," said Henderson, a community activist and pastor of Wounded Women Wanted ministries. "Ke'one . . . he had a hard life."

But Henderson said that Ke'one also had a more hopeful side. He enjoyed writing poetry and composing music, she said. "He was a very sweet boy," Henderson said. "Just angry."

Officer Littlejohn, 37, had tried to look out for his brother, his family said. "He did what he could," Henderson said. "He mentored him, gave him money."

Littlejohn's fellow police officers were stunned and saddened by the killing. "It's a bad situation," said First Deputy Commissioner Byron C. Lockwood, who had worked with Littlejohn when he was in the Ferry/Fillmore District. "It's very sad."

Littlejohn was named "Officer of the Month" in December 1997 for his role in the arrest of a murder suspect who had fired shots near an off-duty cop holding his child.

e-mail: mbecker@buffnews.com

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