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From anger to forgiveness: Man befriends brother's killer

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http://www.theroot.com - New York (CNN) - The day Anthony Colon heard his older brother had been gunned down in East Harlem, he began struggling with a rage that would last for years.



The anger wore him down. He missed him desperately.



He hated the three men who had fired 13 bullets into his brother who was unarmed.



“Oh, God, it just - it just put so much hate in my life. I hated everybody. I hated everything. It made me to be a person, like a monster,” said Colon, who considered his brother Wilfredo his only stable family.



“I loved him because he always stood up for me from a little kid. He would not even allow me to fight. He would stand up for me, whatever happened, because he always saw that goodness in me.”



But as the years passed the fog of anger began to lift.



He married. Had two children. He welcomed religion into his life.



And, he was overwhelmed by a desire to find reconciliation with his brother’s killer.



“I just wanted it to be OK,” he said.



Then one summer day, a chance encounter while visiting a friend at the Eastern Correctional Facility in Ulster County, New York, changed his life.



He looked across the room and saw Michael Rowe, one of the men who had murdered his brother.



Rowe saw him too and tried to duck down.



“I was expecting that we would be you know, it would be a fight, some type of physical violent altercation ,” said Rowe.



Rowe recalls feeling remorse and shame, unable to forgive himself for murdering another young man – and afraid of retaliation.



Colon walked straight up to him and said: “Brother, I’ve been praying for you. I forgave you. I’ve been praying I would see you again.”



The meeting would transform both men’s lives.



Rowe had married the same girl he was dating when he went to prison. They were able to have three children together during his imprisonment, and he wanted desperately to parent them even as he served a sentence of 20 years to life.



“I figured I would die in prison. Or at least leave there a very old man with grey hair,” he said.

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