BANGOR, Maine — John “Bobby” Surles, who was mortally wounded by a gunshot on Wednesday, was defending a friend during a group fight on Cumberland Street when a fellow teenager turned a gun on him and pulled the trigger, family members said Friday.
Allen and Mary Ann Suddy, who are Surles’ grandparents, also adopted him as their son nine years ago.
The grieving couple on Friday described the circumstances of their 19-year-old son’s death Wednesday — as told to them by police as well as by Surles’ friends who were at the fight.
Zachary Carr, 18, of Bangor was charged with Surles’ murder on Friday afternoon after turning himself in to police.
Police said a fight involved six to 12 teenagers or young adults in the street near Carr’s home on Cumberland.
“During the confrontation, they had one boy on the ground with a gun pointed at him,” Mary Ann Suddy said. “Someone said, ‘There’s Bobby’ and [the shooter] turned and pointed the gun at John and shot him.”
As the gunman turned his attention and weapon toward Surles, according to Mary Ann Suddy’s account, Surles yelled at his friend on the ground — “Run Will run” — before the gun went off.
Those may have been his last words.
He stumbled and fell onto the street, where he lay bleeding until an ambulance crew took him to a hospital.
“He never regained consciousness,” Suddy said of her son on Friday while standing in her kitchen, red-faced from crying with her family and friends surrounding her.
“Even though one [person] has been charged, there was more than one gun and there should be more than one charged,” Allen Suddy said.
The Suddys said they believe a local gang is behind their son’s death.
“There is a gang in Bangor that calls themselves ‘The Bloods,’” Allen Suddy said.
Police also have heard that a local gang is involved, police Sgt. Paul Edwards said on Friday. He added that “we cannot verify any ‘gang’ activity.”
But Mary Ann Suddy said “The Bloods” is a group of young people who hang together wearing red bandanas and “who carry guns.”
“This was a planned thing,” she said concerning Wednesday’s shooting. Someone from the gang “called and told him to meet them somewhere.”
Their son was afraid of the gang, she said, but he wouldn’t back away from a fight.
As Surles headed out the door, his father asked where he was heading and Surles told him he would be out riding around with friends.
“I said, ‘OK, behave,’” Allen Suddy recalled. “He said, ‘I love you, pa’ and I said, ‘I love you too.’ The next thing I know, I got the phone call.
“No parent should lose their child,” Allen Suddy said. He was killed “over nothing.”
“John was a tough kid and would protect the other kids,” family friend Brian Mullen of Hermon said Friday from the Suddys’ kitchen. “He was a skater [skate boarder] and kids looked up to him. He was the protector. This is what happens when you’re the protector.”
Surles went to Bangor High School and dropped out as a junior, his mother said. He had spent a couple of months recently “couch surfing” from one friend’s place to another’s, but was living at home, trying to get his high school general equivalence diploma and turning his life around, she said.
Her son’s MySpace page says he smoked pot and loved to ride a skateboard. One picture shows him jumping the steps of a downtown business on his board, but another picture depicts him with a swastika drawn onto his palm with marker. His mother said, “There are things on there that I didn’t agree with,” adding some of her son’s actions were done just for attention.
Parents should keep an eye on what their children are doing, specifically their MySpace and Facebook pages, because “they tell all,” Mary Ann Suddy said.
His friends have set up a special Facebook page in his memory, and by 9 p.m. Friday, 460 people had signed on as friends, many of whom said they would miss him tremendously.
“I talked to you the night before you passed,” wrote Ashlee Marie Heath. “I cant believe youre gone. i know deep down you had a big heart Bobby. It seems like yesterday we were hanging out everyday and taking ridiculous pictures.”
Friend Samantha “Sam” Burgess, 19, said his friends were planning to hold a candlelight vigil some time in the near future and directed people to watch the Facebook page for updates.
“He was like a free-willed, happy-go-lucky kid,” she said. “He would give you the shirt off his back but he was also the most outgoing, spontaneous person.”
Suddy said she will miss her son’s smile more than she can say, but mostly she will miss his presence.
“I’ll miss him calling me Madre,” she said. “It means mom in Spanish.”