Apromising student at Glenfield Middle School in Montclair, T ourrie Moses was student council president by eighth grade. The following year he traded high school for life on the streets. Today, he sits behind bars at East Jersey State Prison with a 15-year sentence on aggravated manslaughter and assault charges.
A new documentary by Emmy Award–winning documentary filmmakers John Block, formerly of NBC, and Steve McCarthy, a Montclair State University instructor and news producer, explores Moses’ transformation from a scholar to a killer, by way of gang violence and lost opportunity.
Funded in part by the John and Rose Cali Family Foundation and filmed during Block’s and McCarthy’s free time over the course of three years, The One That Got Away premiered at the Montclair Film Festival in May before airing on PBS in September.
“Most people don’t think a kid like this grows up this way in Montclair, but it does happen,” McCarthy says. “It’s also about teachers though, really, and how they try every day and how they save people every day. This is the one that got away, but they save thousands and thousands through the years, no doubt.”
The film chronicles efforts by Moses’ middle school teachers to keep him engaged in school and expand his world beyond his neighborhood in Montclair’s south end. For Glenfield teacher Dan Gill, who has taught there for more than 40 years, Moses is the student they couldn’t save – “the one that got away.”
The film was also the topic for WNYC’S The Takeaway in September. “We hope that it starts a national discussion about young people like this,” says McCarthy. “When they’re looking like they’re going the wrong way, what can we do?”