Father of 6-month-old killed in drive-by shooting says he forgives those responsible

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Neighbors pay their respects to the family at Grayson’s visitation

The father of a 6-month-old killed in a drive-by shooting last week says he’s not angry at those responsible. It is through his faith that Shawn Fleming says he’s been able to make it through.

“I’ve forgiven them and I love all of them because that’s what God would want me to do,” Fleming told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Monday, just hours before a public visitation was held for his son, Grayson Fleming-Gray.

Fleming was providing food for those in need through his nonprofit organization Jan. 24 when he got a phone call that his son had been shot. The child was killed when shots were fired from a speeding SUV in northwest Atlanta, according to police. The baby’s mother, Kerri Gray, had just stopped at the Food Mart corner store on Anderson Avenue when the gunfire erupted.

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Fleming rushed to Grady Memorial Hospital and asked Gray about his son.

“He’s gone,” she told him.

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens and police Chief Rodney Bryant vowed to find those responsible. By the following day, the alleged shooter, 22-year-old Dequasie Johnathan Little, was arrested and charged with felony murder and aggravated assault. A second suspect, Sharice Michelle Ingram, later surrendered and was also charged with felony murder and aggravated assault. Investigators believe Ingram was driving the SUV.

Credit: Fulton County Sheriff's Office

Credit: Fulton County Sheriff's Office

Fleming said he was grateful to those who made the quick arrests. He said he has been able to put aside any anger toward those responsible.

“They’re victims as well,” he said. “Their parents are victims. This tragedy has impacted so many lives and communities.”

Gray has told the AJC she has also been able to find peace knowing that Grayson’s organs helped save other lives. “I do believe that God had a bigger purpose for him and this will help someone’s little boy and girl,” she said.

Gray said her family has been overwhelmed by the support, even from strangers. Fundraisers were set up and countless people have offered money, meals and prayers.

Willie A. Watkins Funeral Home, where Monday’s visitation was held, declined to take payment after Gray picked out a tiny casket.

Family members and other visitors stared at Grayson’s toys Monday afternoon, knowing he would never play with them again. Some wiped away tears as they looked upon the baby lying perfectly at peace in his blue coffin next to his favorite Pooh stuffed bear.

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Gail Santelli came with her grandchildren who attend school in the area. She hopes the incident prompts change.

“We came by to pay our respects because everybody knows this is senseless and ridiculous,” she said. “Where are all the guns coming from? Where and how are these people getting them?”

Jacqueline Toomer, who founded the nonprofit True Integrity that helps people during times of crisis, felt that even though she did not personally know the family, she wanted to make sure Gray felt supported.

“I wanted to reach out to the family to show my condolences and to let (Gray) know that she is not alone,” she said.

At the Food Mart where Grayson was fatally shot, a memorial of plush toys continues to grow along the road. Georgetta Morton, who has been building memorials for the past year and a half for children who have been killed throughout metro Atlanta, reached out to Gray after seeing her on the news. When she saw that no memorial was being built for baby Grayson, she took on the task herself.

“I’m drained. I’m completely drained. It’s not easy being out there seeing these little faces, where they’re just being murdered and I feel like they’re being left out and nobody is saying anything. Children are being murdered, little babies,” Morton said.

Surrounded by family, friends and neighbors Monday, the baby’s parents have focused on the impact Grayson made in six short months.

“I always try to find a silver lining,” Fleming said. “This is an opportunity for us to get back to the foundation of love. If there was love in the picture, we wouldn’t be here right now.”