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Carson Friends Question His 'Angry' Early Childhood Story

Image: Carson Friends Question His 'Angry' Early Childhood Story
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By    |   Thursday, 05 Nov 2015 09:56 AM

Ben Carson has spoken often during his presidential campaign about his redemption through God from a life of violence as a young man, but people who knew him when he was growing up in Detroit told CNN that they don't remember him being either angry or violent.

"He got through his day trying not to be noticed," one of his former classmates, Robert Collier, told CNN. "I remember him having a pocket saver. He had thick glasses. He was skinny and unremarkable."

Collier's description was echoed by nearly a dozen other people CNN contacted, with all of them saying they were surprised to hear Carson describing acts of violence that included an attempted stabbing, punching a classmate in the face with his hand wrapped around a lock, attempting to attack his own mother with a hammer, and throwing a rock at a boy and breaking his glasses and smashing his nose.

With the attempted stabbing, Carson said he blade hit the other boy's belt buckle and stopped the attack.

"I was trying to kill somebody," Carson said at a recent event, saying the long-ago incident happened when he was 14-years-old.

The retired neurosurgeon wrote in his book, "Gifted Hands," that his religious intervention occurred in the bathroom of his family's home in Detroit after the tried to stab the boy, over a dispute about music on the radio.

He said the attack was the last among several that threatened to stop his dream of one day becoming a doctor.

Gerald Ware, one of his classmates at Detroit's Southwestern High School, said he was shocked when he read Carson's book, as such incidents would have "been all over the whole school."

But when CNN asked the campaign for documentation of the actions or identities of victims or witnesses, Carson's campaign adviser and business manager, Armstrong Williams, asked the network "who would anyone cooperate with your obvious witch hunt . . . no comment and moving on."

Another classmate, Brad Wilson, remembered Carson as an obedient child, who would not even cross the street to ride bikes with him, because that would have disobeyed his mother's rules.

Another classmate, Dorian Reeves, who was in school with Carson from elementary school on, said he personally did "not have knowledge of those incidents" and wondered "when did that happen?" when he heard the stories.

Ware told CNN that when a group of classmates were planning a reunion several years ago, Carson's stories came up, and nobody "knew anything about that happening. Take my word for it: Everyone at Southwestern would know about it if something like that happened."

Another former junior high school and high school classmate, Jerry Dixon, told CNN that Carson was a "quiet, shy kid, not too outgoing."

Dixon said that as he played football, he and Carson were in different circles, and "Bennie stayed home a lot or went to the library to work. We would have been at the ball field, so maybe he would have come by to watch."

Timothy E. McDaniel, Southwestern's class president in 1969, said he was Carson's closest friend in high school and never saw any evidence of the anger or violence Carson has described.

McDaniel, who said he is still friends with Carson, told CNN that they had discussed the incidents at Carson's home in Baltimore years later, and Carson told him that before, he was just "too embarrassed to even talk about it," McDaniel recalled.

"I was surprised at some of the things he said. But, you know, he said them honestly and I believed everything he told me."

Carson's former neighbors in Detroit, Steve and Marie Choice, also described Carson as easygoing, and said he often went to school in an ROTC uniform and carrying a musical instrument.

Further, Steve Choice said that Carson and he brother had a great deal of respect for their mother, and he does not believe that he tried to hit her with a hammer.

"I just never seen him, you know, talk back to her or anything," Choice told CNN.

Further, Carson said in his book that his family left Detroit after his mother discovered his father was a bigamist and they ended up in a tenement in Boston, returning to Detroit when he was about 10 to a section near Delray, a  "upper-lower-class neighborhood."

However, the neighborhood is on a tree-lined block even today, and the Choices described their block back then as one being so safe, neighbors left their doors unlocked.

But still, that ROTC uniform left Carson open for taunts, classmate Kevin Fobbs said, with the Detroit riots erupting in the summer of 1967 when Carson was in high school.

"I was pushed around a lot in high school in that first and second year," Fobbs, who was a freshman when Carson was a senior ROTC commander. He could not remember Carson being in a fight or even losing his temper, but he admitted that the older boy may not have wanted to talk about a more-violent past.

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Ben Carson has spoken often during his presidential campaign about his redemption through God from a life of violence as a young man, but people who knew him when he was growing up in Detroit told CNN that they don't remember him being either angry or violent.
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Thursday, 05 Nov 2015 09:56 AM
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