Mother of 6-month-old killed in drive-by shooting grieving amid man’s arrest

Kerri Gray talks about her son at her Cumming home Tuesday. The 6-month-old was killed Monday. (Steve Schaefer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

caption arrowCaption
Kerri Gray talks about her son at her Cumming home Tuesday. The 6-month-old was killed Monday. (Steve Schaefer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Kerri Gray had just parked outside an Atlanta food market she often visited when she turned around and saw her baby slumped over in his car seat.

When she noticed a pool of blood in his lap, her heart began to race.

On Tuesday afternoon, less than 24 hours after the fatal drive-by shooting of 6-month-old Grayson Matthew Fleming-Gray, Atlanta’s mayor and police chief announced the arrest of 22-year-old Dequasie Jonathan Little. He is charged with felony murder and aggravated assault.

“What happened was the bullet had gone through the trunk and straight through my son,” Gray told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday, recalling the tragedy as she clutched her son’s favorite Pooh plush toy at her Cumming home.

She said she knew Grayson was gone the moment she pressed him against her white fleece sweater, which remains stained with his blood. Gray had no idea what had just happened. Grayson had not cried, and the noise simply did not sound like a gunshot.

“I pulled him out of the car seat and I grabbed him, and when I did that, that’s when I felt the pieces — the loose pieces in the back of his head,” Gray said while fighting back tears.

Grayson was caught in the crossfire of a shootout between two drivers in southwest Atlanta on Monday shortly before 3 p.m., the latest example of a child’s life being cut short by gun violence in the city. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.

“Gun violence is out of control and we’re going to put an end to it here in Atlanta,” Mayor Andre Dickens said during a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

caption arrowCaption
Dequasie Little (left) is accused of killing 6-month-old Grayson Matthew Fleming-Gray, according to Atlanta police.

Credit: Fulton County Sheriff's Office / Family photo

Dequasie Little (left) is accused of killing 6-month-old Grayson Matthew Fleming-Gray, according to Atlanta police.

Credit: Fulton County Sheriff's Office / Family photo

caption arrowCaption
Dequasie Little (left) is accused of killing 6-month-old Grayson Matthew Fleming-Gray, according to Atlanta police.

Credit: Fulton County Sheriff's Office / Family photo

Credit: Fulton County Sheriff's Office / Family photo

The Food Mart on Anderson Avenue was a place Gray went to often with her son. She said she had never experienced any crime or violence in the area until Monday.

Before pulling into the parking lot, Gray said she saw a vehicle zoom through the neighborhood. Frustrated, she pulled over and let the driver pass. As soon as she pulled into the parking lot, another SUV rushed past.

“And that’s when I saw the gun come out of the back window. The guy was chasing the guy in front of him,” Gray said.

Police released footage Tuesday of a Jeep SUV driving in the area around the time of the incident in hopes of identifying suspects. It shows the gray or white vehicle driving by as someone appears to be hanging out of the window. Authorities said more arrests are possible.

“I won’t cheerlead the fact that we were able to apprehend this person in such a short period of time,” Atlanta police Chief Rodney Bryant said Tuesday. “I’m mad as hell that the incident occurred in the first place.”

Tips from the community helped investigators find Little in Decatur, according to Bryant, who went to the scene Monday along with Dickens. South Fulton police located the suspected vehicle, he said.

Gray got news of the arrest just moments before police announced it to the public. Though she was glad an arrest was made so quickly, she was unable to think past the fact that her only son is gone.

“I think that if you get the opportunity, make better life choices, because those of us who become your collateral damage — that’s not fair,” Gray said. “You ruined my life.”

caption arrowCaption
Atlanta police are asking for the public’s help to locate a vehicle whose occupants may be connected to the shooting death of a 6-month-old boy.

Dickens praised the quick work of Atlanta officers. Bryant said it was a team effort between his officers, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Georgia State Patrol and neighboring agencies.

Bryant said investigators feel confident they have located the shooter. But the investigation is not over, he said.

“It is such a tragedy when we lose any citizen of this city,” the chief said. “But when it’s a child, it pulls even more at the heartstrings, not just of the men and women of the Atlanta Police Department, but throughout the community.”

Little has a criminal record that dates to 2018, when he was accused of aggravated assault, according to jail and court records. He was arrested in January 2019 and released less than two months later on $20,000 bond, records show. At the time, Little had pending charges in Houston and Peach counties.

In April 2019, he was returned to the Fulton jail and then back to Houston County, booking records show. Last year, Little was arrested in September in connection with the same case, which remains open.

Grayson’s death was the 12th homicide investigation of the year for Atlanta police. It was the second deadly shooting of the year involving babies.

With countless number of Grayson’s toys cluttering Gray’s home, she said she has yet to fully understand what happened.

On Monday night, she slept on her living room floor on top of multiple confronters. It was where she and her baby had been sleeping together for the past six months. Moving in and out of sleep most of the night, Gray got up in the morning, went into the kitchen and got everything ready to make Grayson’s bottle.

Then it hit her. She looked around her home, but he was nowhere to be found.

“That was the worst feeling in the world because he was already a miracle baby,” Gray said. “That was the baby that I dreamt of having my whole life. And the fact that somebody could so selfishly take him away.”


INNOCENT VICTIMS

A look at children shot while riding in cars in Atlanta:

July 4, 2020: Secoriea Turner, 8, was killed on University Avenue at Prior Road

Dec. 21, 2020: Kennedy Maxie, 7, shot near Phipps Plaza and died days later

Jan. 19: 5-year-old grazed by bullet in the 1800 block of Campbellton Road

Monday: Grayson Matthew Fleming-Gray shot in his car seat on Anderson Avenue