When Shawn Clark enlisted in the Marines in 2001, he was moved by love of country and a sense of duty. But he also had his eye on the future, and a long-standing dream.
An avid skateboarder, Clark wanted to open a skate shop of his own, and hoped to earn the money he needed during his military service.
“It was part of his master plan,” his uncle, Brian Clark, said Wednesday. “Skateboarding was in his blood.”
On Tuesday afternoon, Shawn Clark was gunned down outside his popular Malden shop, Patriot Skateboards, and died later in the day. Clark, 39, who served three tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan according to his uncle, was married with two young boys.
“He was very devoted to them,” his uncle said. “He’s a man’s man, but he went out to buy a minivan for the kids.”
Shawn Clark taught his boys, now 8 and 6, how to skate “as soon as they could walk,” his uncle said.
The brazen shooting, which occurred in broad daylight on a busy street, came after an apparent struggle that left clothing and shell casings scattered in the street. Brian Clark said authorities had provided the family little information, but said the altercation began at the shop counter before spilling outside. That has led the family to believe Clark was resisting a robbery, he said.
“For better or worse, he’s the kind of guy that won’t back down,” he said.
Brian Clark said the store had a number of security cameras, including one with a view outside the front of the shop.
“I’m really hoping they provide some information,” he said.
Brian Clark said he didn’t think his nephew kept a gun at the shop.
The owner of a nearby convenience store said he saw two men running down a sidestreet away from the scene of the attack. No arrests have been made, and police have not released any details about potential suspects.
Shawn Clark married his wife, Melissa, about a decade ago while he was on leave, his uncle said. The couple married July 4, in keeping with Shawn’s patriotism.
At the same time, he loved the free-spirited, rebellious skateboard culture, his uncle said. He lobbied for new skateboard parks in the area, and organized numerous skateboarding events.
His shops, first in Saugus and then Malden, became fixtures of the skateboarding community, and many of the teenagers looked to Shawn as a big brother.
“He was totally gray, but he was really a big kid,” Brian Clark said. “He was very much a skateboarder at heart.”
Clark grew up in Somerville and Everett, his uncle said, and started skateboarding from a young age.
The family may bury Clark in his military uniform, but is also considering a skateboarding T-shirt in tribute to that part of his life.
“He was definitely a unique combination,” he said.