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Teen ‘Oprah’ Hero Shot To Death

January 12, 1999

MILWAUKEE (AP) _ A teen-ager who was celebrated as a hero on ``The Oprah Winfrey Show″ three years ago was shot to death in what relatives believe was an attempt to rob a drug house.

Lafayette Clark, 17, was slain Sunday night. Another teen-ager was wounded.

Police are investigating, but Clark’s mother, Lorraine Allen, said: ``He didn’t agree with people doing drugs. ... I think he was going to take their money.″

She added, ``We lost control.″

When he was 14, Clark saw a boy being kidnapped and chased the car. He wrote down its license plate number, the house it stopped at, descriptions of the man and the boy, and went to police, thwarting the abduction.

Police gave him an award. Ms. Winfrey showcased him. Officers wanted him to join their ranks, but he said he planned on becoming an architect.

But kids made fun of him for helping police, and he began acting tougher, his mother said. His father drifted off, leaving Ms. Allen to raise Clark and six other children, she said. A police mentor failed to materialize, she said.

By the time of Sunday’s shooting, Clark had fathered two children and had a third on the way, all by different women, relatives said. He had a police record, had been shot by a robber and had stopped going to school.

When Ms. Allen moved to Green Bay, he stayed in Milwaukee with relatives.

``We never gave up on him,″ said his uncle, Darron Reed, who said he tried to keep Clark on the right track and often took him to the gym.

His mother said: ``I couldn’t show him how to be a man. I could just try to tell him how a man should be.″

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