This April, reactions to Cape Fear Community College student Joshua Proutey’s untimely death are everywhere. The first of many hearings for his murder began April 9 for one of Proutey’s shooters, Quintel Raheem Grady. On April 12, Josh would have transitioned out of his teenage years and turned 20 years old-his mother, Patty Gabello, planned to buy a birthday cake to celebrate.
Patty sat in the common room of an Abbott’s Run apartment, fiddling with a pen as she speaks. It has been almost four months since she learned of her son’s death. She weighs her words before she speaks softly of her son, who was shot and killed during a robbery in downtown Wilmington on Dec. 13, 2012.
For the hearing, Patty returned to NC. After his death, she was so afraid to leave, because she thought when she did, her son, Josh, would be left behind.
Patty wished more than anything that she could take her son home with her, which she says now, is not rational. But when Josh was stripped of a life full of promise and Patty was stripped of her youngest boy, her “Joshi,” things that used to be irrational seem perfectly normal.
April 9 was full of firsts for Patty. She saw Quintel Raheem Grady, the man that ultimately pulled the trigger and ended her son’s life, at the first of many hearings. She also visited the parking lot downtown where the three men and one woman robbed Josh of two $5 bills, his recently purchased sandwich and his life.
To Patty, seeing Grady and the site where Josh spent the last moments of his life was part of a desensitizing effort she is making herself go through before the actual trial. Patty wants to familiarize herself with the details that hold high emotional value so she is able to get through the trial in one piece. Patty describes it as an effort to avoid dishonoring Josh with an emotional breakdown when the trial comes.
“I do that in private,” she said, quietly.
Josh was getting an education before ultimately joining the Marine Corps to become an officer. He was a person beyond his years, showing compassion when many his age would not have.
On a trip to Guatemala, Josh and his family were traversing a village to bring Christmas presents to children who were often forgotten during the holiday season. Josh noticed a boy walking with a tattered button-down shirt and asked his mom if he could give the boy the brand new shirt he was wearing.
“I was so impressed,” Patty said. “So impressed.”
Josh, in fourth grade at the time, gave the Guatemalan boy the shirt off his back and took the tattered shirt to wear for himself. Patty thinks that tattered shirt might be tucked away among Josh’s things still.
On more mission trips to Guatemala, Patty said they took at least two every year, amounting to at least six total trips, the family would help at an orphanage. Josh basically lived as an orphan on those trips: eating with the orphans, sleeping where they slept. Through the friendships Josh forged, his family eventually met Carlos, a future addition to their family.
Carlos and Josh became so attached, Patty jokes that the family used to say, “Joshua adopted Carlos first.”
Josh was the youngest in his family, and according to Patty, was spoiled by his three older brothers and one older sister. Julie, Josh’s sister, was another mother to Josh. Jason, Ben and Joe acted as fathers as well as brothers.
“Brothers but fathers,” Patty said, nodding.
Sitting in the apartment home at Abbott’s Run, Patty commended the complex for being so wonderful to Josh in life and to her in the aftermath of his death-Abbott’s Run gives Patty a place to stay at no cost when she comes to town now.
She credits Josh’s personality and ability to attract people with his good humor and wit for the good treatment she has gotten in Wilmington since he died.
When Patty and Josh first came to tour Abbott’s Run before Josh’s freshman year, an employee showed them around, promising to “take good care of her son.”
Patty left Wilmington in Sept. 2012 and left Josh to continue his freshman year alone, but in the care, according to her, of so many good people. That would be the last time Patty saw her son.
In the early morning of Dec. 12, 2012; Christopher Daniel Cromartie, 23, Jasmine Nicole Dottin, 19, Quintel Raheem Grady, 22, and Daniel Edward Henry, 17, went downtown with the intention of robbing someone.
After two failed attempts, Grady, Cromartie and Henry confronted Josh in a parking lot after Josh had gotten off work at the Hannah Block Community Arts Center.
The group robbed Josh of what little he had before speeding off in the getaway car Dottin had nearby. Josh was found later in a pool of blood by a passerby. He was dead at 19.
Grady, one of the four people charged with Josh’s murder, could face the death penalty. Patty has no opinion on the controversial matter, saying she could not possibly have enough information to make that judgment herself. She hopes the people who do have that information, make the right decision for her Josh.
With the prosecution seeking capital punishment, the families of those charged are not lost on Patty. She thinks of their mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters.
“I am sorry that we all have to walk this walk,” Patty said.
Patty knows she will eventually need to move on. Being a Christian, she has faith that Josh is in her future, waiting for her. Patty wants to hurry up and get there, but for now, she wakes up every morning and thinks of Josh.
In the moment between sleep and awake, Patty tests herself before opening her eyes. Is Josh still alive? Is this real? Patty opens her eyes with the same answer every morning-yes, Josh is dead. She gets up anyway and with the feeling of Josh surrounding her, starts her day.
Emily Evans | News Editor | TheSeahawk.org
Posted: Tuesday, April 16, 2013 12:00 am | Updated: 3:39 pm, Wed Sep 11, 2013.