Nobody seemed to believe Damien Floyd might really die - least of all Damien.

It took two hours for the teen to bleed out from the bullet in his gut. Police have arrested an acquaintance named Tracey McCormick in the North Philadelphia shooting.

Moments after he was wounded, witnesses told his family, Damien jumped up, wanting to fight back. He was still talking when police arrived and called an ambulance. At Temple's emergency room, his mother says, he managed to give his medical history.

Damien's older sister, Syreeta, says a detective on the case told her that - perhaps because they were convinced he'd survive - officers never asked Damien who shot him. Police declined to comment.

Damien's was a death by dare.

Friends who were there say this: Damien confronted McCormick in front of the 20-year-old's house because he believed McCormick had been bad-mouthing him. When McCormick announced he was going inside to get a gun, Damien stayed put. When McCormick came out, Damien dared him to use it.

"I wish," says Damien's mother, Cheryl Harrell, "he would have ran." Or that she'd moved the family to a home she and Damien's stepfather own in North Carolina - though a world where "there's no corners" would have been a big adjustment for her city son.

After having problems at school, Damien had moved in with Syreeta, who was tougher on him than their mom. Every day, he'd drop off and pick up his year-old niece at day-care on his way to and from Boone High, a chore he'd completed just before he was gunned down.

After the funeral, the family hosts a reception with linen tablecloths, photos of Damien as centerpieces, and a cake with his picture in the icing.

A cousin, Cyneethia Brice, hates what has happened since the struggle for civil rights.

"Everything they fought for to get us where we are," she says, "truly means nothing to a lot of the young people... . All these trends are coming back - bell-bottom jeans, big Afro hairdos. The only thing that's not coming back is the way people value life."

Contact April Saul at 215-854-2872 or