BRUNSWICK, Ga. — The mother of a baby gunned down in his stroller says she has no doubt a teenage suspect is the man who killed her 13-month-old son, but family members say he wasn’t anywhere near the scene.
“That’s definitely him,” Sherry West said Saturday when she saw the jail mug shot of 17-year-old De’Marquise Elkins, who is charged as an adult with first-degree murder. Police also arrested a 14-year-old who has not been identified because he is a minor.
“We’re trying to determine which one actually was the shooter,” police spokesman Todd Rhodes said Saturday.
But West said she was certain the gunman was the older suspect. “He killed my baby, and he shot me, too,” she said.
On Thursday morning, West was pushing Antonio Santiago in his stroller after a trip to the post office. She said a teen, accompanied by a smaller boy, asked her for money.
“And he kept asking, and I just said, ‘I don’t have it.’ And he said, ‘Do you want me to kill your baby?’ And I said, ‘No, don’t kill my baby!'” she said.
One of the teens fired four shots, then walked around to the stroller and shot the baby in the face.
Police announced the arrests of Elkins and the 14-year-old Friday afternoon. But Katrina Freeman, Elkins’ aunt, said Saturday that he couldn’t be the killer because the two were together at the time of the shooting.
Freeman said Elkins dropped by her home about 8:15 a.m. — roughly an hour before the shooting — and she cooked them grits, eggs and sausage for breakfast.
They stayed at her home until about 11 a.m., Freeman said, and then Elkins accompanied her and her children on some errands for about an hour. After noon, he left for classes he is taking to earn his GED, she said.
“He was with us the whole time,” said Freeman, adding that she gave police the same account of her nephew’s whereabouts. “There is no doubt in my mind that he is innocent.”
Brunswick police have said little about what evidence led them to Elkins or the younger suspect. Police spokesman Todd Rhodes said Saturday that he is not surprised Elkins’ aunt would try to protect him.
“That’s what she’s saying, but the evidence we’re looking at says something else,” Rhodes said. He would not elaborate. He said investigators still can’t say what motivated the shootings.
Elkins’ older sister said her brother had been living in Atlanta and returned to Brunswick only a few months ago. On Friday morning, as her brother made his way along the sidewalk to her home, police came to her door, she said.
“The police came pointing a Taser at him, telling him to get on the ground,” she said. “He said, ‘What are you getting me for? Can you tell me what I did?’ ”
On Saturday, police released recordings of three 911 calls made by West’s neighbors right after the shooting.
One woman sobs as she says: “Somebody shot this child. … Please, we need everything we can get.”
No callers reported seeing the shootings Thursday.
One caller tells an operator, “No, the baby’s not breathing.” He says the child was shot “right between the eyes.”
A woman can be heard screaming in the background just before police arrive.
No callers reported seeing the shootings, and police said the three calls were the only ones they knew of.
At her apartment Saturday, West had filled several bags with her son’s clothes and diapers to donate to charity. She said she hopes prosecutors pursue the death penalty in the case.
“My baby will never be back again,” West said, sobbing. “He took an innocent life. I want his life, too.”
The slaying happened around the corner from West’s apartment in the city’s Old Town historic district. It’s a street lined with grand Victorian homes from the late 1800s. Most have been neatly restored by their owners. Others, with faded and flaking paint, have been divided into rental units such as the apartment West shared with her son. The slain boy’s father, Luis Santiago, lives in a house across the street.
A neighbor dropped off a fruit basket and then a hot pot of coffee Friday as a friend from the post office dropped by to comfort West.
Santiago came and went. At one point he scooped up an armload of his son’s stuffed animals, saying he wanted to take them home with him. He talked about Antonio’s first birthday Feb. 5 and how they had tried different party hats on the boy.
“He’s all right,” Santiago told the boy’s mother, trying to smile. “He’s potty-training upstairs in heaven.”
West said her son was walking well on his own and eight of his teeth had come in. But she also mourned the milestones that will never come, such as Antonio’s first day at school.
“I’m always going to wonder what his first word would be,” West said.
For more information: http://news.msn.com/us/ga-woman-says-shes-certain-suspect-shot-her-baby