EAST BALTIMORE, Md. - A center full of children, 45 to be exact, stands where the Dawson family lived and where they died.
"This was a tragedy that touched people internationally," said Pamela Carter, executive director, The Dawson Center.
Ten years ago the efforts of Mrs. Dawson to stop the drug dealing back fired. Their home at 1401 East Preston St. was set on fire.
"Keith, Kevin, Carnell, Juan, and LaWanda," Congressman Elijah Cummings read the names at a service to mark the tragedy.
Five children and Carnell and Angela Dawson couldn't escape a firebomb.
"On that night, they viciously murdered children and their parents," said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, (D) Baltimore.
The children at the Dawson Center understand their after school activities are now located where an unspeakable tragedy played out. Ten years later, flash lights shine, but Congressman Cummings is not content.
"They should not fear a stray bullet. They should not fear stepping on needles when they go to school. They should not fear seeing the caps from crack cocaine," he said.
The city housing director touts the programs that launched following the firebomb.
"We have seen over 125 houses that were vacant that are now either fully renovated or are under construction right now," said City Housing Director Paul Graziano.
The Dawson Center cost $1.2 million to build in 2007, and the city spends $270,000 to it run annually.
"There has been a lot of crime that's been cleaned up in the area, and I hope to see much more in the future," said Cassandra Jones, a neighbor.
"It changed the way my common sense was and my book smarts was cause it helps me every day learn more and more," said James Norris, a Dawson Center student.
A few other programs came about following the firebomb that killed the Dawson family. Baltimore's witness intimidation program and the first new homes were built in the Oliver community in over 50 years.
The Dawsons had six children. Their oldest was not home that night.
Darrell brooks, a neighbor, pled guilty to the crimes and was handed a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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