In the CNN video posted below, Sherry West, the mother of 13-month-old Baby Antonio, who was shot in the face in Brunswick, Georgia, last week, tells how her first son, Shaun Glassey, also died a violent death.
Glassey was stabbed to death with a steak knife in New Jersey in 2008 when he was 18 years old. However, he was not an innocent victim, according to police. He was part of a group of teens who ambushed a 17-year-old. The boy who stabbed Glassey was acting in self-defense and not just some evil person who took her older son away as West has intimated in interviews.
She says on the video that she's afraid to have children again, and the CNN reporter says that she's paranoid and understandably fearful.
You will also see in the video below the back of the unidentified 15-year-old who was allegedly involved with the crime. He stands before a judge wearing a prison orange jumpsuit and chains. He and the alleged shooter, De'Marquise Elkins, have been charged with murder and neither has entered a plea. Elkins, 17, allegedly shot twice at West, grazing her ear and wounding her in the leg, and then shot the baby, who was in his stroller, while the younger boy stood by and watched.
Already the families of the two boys have been pitted against each other. The mother of the younger boy says that her son only witnessed the crime and is himself a victim of Elkins's alleged actions, and Elkins's family members say he wasn't present when the baby was shot. The families say that the boys don't even know each other. Although, I do wonder what the 15-year-old told his mother. Her comment suggests that she believes Elkins is guilty.
I have learned from commenters on my previous post about this crime and also from the Atlanta Journal Constitution that West has already packed up some of the the baby's clothing and other belongings to give away. Furthermore, the AJC reports that his body was immediately cremated because West didn't want to see his little body "in a box." The last time she saw Baby Antonio, according the AJC, paramedics were taking his body away in an ambulance.
The AJC article has details not mentioned in the CNN stories that I've read. For instance, according to AJC, the alleged shooter Elkins had a Facebook page that the paper says has been removed from the social media site. On his Facebook page, he allegedly bragged that "he and his friends would 'turn your neighborhood into a murder scene.'" I don't know whether the AJC's reporter is merely reporting what she read at Mediate or reporting something she was able to confirm herself. We live in an age of mainstream media outlets compiling reports from other websites, hearsay everywhere. Where's the screenshot at least?
The AJC story also reports that the baby's father, Luis Santiago, blames West for the baby's death:
Luis Santiago, who was arrested and jailed briefly after the shooting when his grief overwhelmed him and he began screaming at West, blaming her for their son’s death.This sounds damning and a cruel thing to say to the mother of your child, but people react to death in strange ways. West was near Santiago and the boys were not, so perhaps she received the brunt of his anger. Nonetheless, and however the baby was shot, the emerging snippets about the case are frightening and bizarre. I wonder what the parents' relationship was like before this tragedy.
“I’m not upset with the boys,” Santiago said Saturday of the two teenagers charged with killing his son. “They didn’t have a good upbringing.”
He has lots of questions, but they are mostly for West. “Why did you go that way?” Santiago asked. He said he frequently told her to take another route when she walked their son in a neighborhood that has public housing projects on each end of the street.
Does he blame West? “Hell, yes, I do,” Santiago said.
As I have already written at this blog, this real nightmare reminds me of the Susan Smith case of 1994; however, I know that people grieve and react to trauma differently. I don't want to believe West's version of what happened to Baby Antonio nor do I want to believe a scenario implied when I think of Susan Smith.
I don't want to believe that two black males, teens, committed this heinous crime, but sadly I cannot rule out that it's possible Elkins is guilty. I have repeatedly lamented at The Urban Mother's Book of Prayers the devaluation of human life among some young people in the black community; however, most often they kill each other, and the death rate takes its toll. And if it's not gang-related, then it's sadly probably another case domestic violence.
The high rate of shootings in my city, New Orleans, and other urban areas takes a toll on families and the entire city. Sometimes innocent bystanders are shot, as we saw last year here through a gruesome birthday party shooting. (See also the shooting death of Haydia Pendleton in Chicago and the death of Baby Jonyla that I mentioned in my earlier post about Baby Antonio.) The more common scenario, however, is that the victim and the killer know each other as was the case in 2009 when little Ja'shawn Powell's father slit his throat but reported him as kidnapped. Ja'Shawn's father didn't want to pay child support, and he wanted the child's mother to suffer as well.
Recalling that increasing gun violence in urban areas usually happens between people who know each other is the only knowledge that lets some of us get to sleep at night. We think that if we don't know people in gang culture or don't live near people in that lifestyle and if we are not in families with histories of domestic violence, then we're unlikely to die a violent death or lose a child to gunfire. But then we hear stories like Baby Antonio's and we think again. If Elkins really shot that baby, then we don't sleep as easily.
For many of us of any race and in many ways, it would be less terrifying to believe that someone who knew Baby Antonio killed him. And for many of us in the black community, believing someone who knew the baby killed the baby would be more comforting because we do not want to hear more stories about black dysfunction or deal with people who can't distinguish criminal elements in our community from our entire community.
But whether we are black, brown or white, if it turns out to be true that these boys committed this heinous act, then this violence, through its supposed randomness, has crept closer to us all. And regardless of the age of the victim, regardless of race, random violence is another sign of societal dysfunction, of potential chaos, something no sane person ever wants to face.