Two arrested in killing of Brunswick toddler

Staff writer Rhonda Cook and The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Two teenagers were arrested on murder charges Friday in the shooting death of a Brunswick infant — a crime so callous it left residents of the coastal city and people across the nation aghast.

De’marquis Elkins, 17, and a 14-year-old juvenile whose name was withheld by police are accused of firing a series of gunshots that wounded Sherry West and killed her 13-month-old son Antonio Thursday. The mother and child were out for a morning walk in a quiet, historic part of town where the streets are lined with century-old homes.

The handgun used in the shooting has not been found. Brunswick police said they had not confirmed the mother’s account to several news reporters that it was a robbery attempt.

A spokesman for the police department said search warrants were being served at three locations Friday afternoon to gain additional information.

“We just want the community to continue to bring in information, because this is still an ongoing investigation,” said Todd A. Rhodes, public information officer for the Brunswick police.

The mother, Sherry West, wept while she told The Associated Press about the encounter with the two teenagers.

“He asked me for money and I said I didn’t have it,” she said. “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 the older teen fired first into the ground. When she didn’t see a shell casing ejected, West said she assumed the gun wasn’t real.

Then he fired at her head and the bullet grazed her left ear — she had a small scab and bruising there. He fired again and shot her in the left leg above the knee. But, the mother said, “I didn’t know I was hurt.”

“The boy proceeded to go around to the stroller and he shot my baby in the face,” she said. “And then he just shoved me when I started screaming and he ran down London Street with the little boy.”

Sadly, West has lost a child to violence before. She told The Associated Press her 18-year-old son, Shaun Glassey, was killed in New Jersey in 2008.

Questions remain about where the suspects lived, where they were arrested and whether anyone would collect the $10,000 reward offered for the arrest and conviction of the suspects. Brunswick police said they would release additional details as the investigation continues.

Police spent all day Thursday and much of Friday combing the neighborhood for clues, checking absentee records at area schools, and following up on about 30 leads that came in via their tip line or email.

Located about halfway between Savannah and Jacksonville, the city of Brunswick has a population of about 15,000 people. There were no homicides or rapes in the city last year, and only seven aggravated assaults and two robberies were reported in all of 2012, according to crime statistics posted on the Brunswick Police Department website.

West has lived in a rented house in the city’s Old Town historic district for six or seven years, according to Beverly Anderson, whose husband owns the property.

“The house has a front porch with a swing and we’d see him out on the swing with his mother,” Anderson said. “He was a happy, cheerful baby.”

Paul Westbrook, who runs a bed and breakfast in a 111-year-old house across the street from the shooting site, said the neighborhood is safe and peaceful. People often stroll and bicycle along the sidewalks, and kids traverse the streets on their way to and from two nearby schools.

Soon after he returned home from taking his granddaughter to school Thursday, Westbrook heard two gunshots and a woman screaming, “Somebody call the police.” He took off in her direction while he dialed 911 on his cellphone.

“There were two people already there, one on a bike and one that lived next door, and they were calling the police, too,” Westbrook said.

Another witness, Kimberly Anderson, ran to the spot after hearing the gunshots. She said the mother immediately began giving her baby CPR.

“You just have that sick feeling … an empty, gut-wrenching kind of a feeling,” Anderson said. “A baby that size doesn’t get shot in the head and there be any positive outcome.”

Anderson said she had trouble sleeping after witnessing the aftermath of the shooting. She hoped the arrests would bring some closure for the mother as well as the community, which she said seemed to draw closer together as a result of the crime.

“We can’t hide from the reality of the world we live in today,” she said. “The only way to defeat it is to stay where we are, firmly grounded in what our beliefs are. We’re not gonna tuck our tails and run.”