Boxer’s mother, family pray for justice

'They didn’t have to take his life,' Mildred Forrest says

Mildred Forrest prayed for her 9-year-old son Vernon when he said wanted to start boxing, and every time he stepped into the ring.

And now that the three men police say are responsible for her son’s brutal death are in custody:

“I’m praying for justice to be done,” Mildred Forrest said early Thursday evening.

The mother of eight smiled periodically Thursday evening as she thought about her sixth child, and reflected on his success as a pro boxer.

“He had a good life,” she said of Vernon. “He wanted to be a boxer and was good at it. And it paid off.”

But she also showed flashes of anger at what happened to her son.

“They didn’t have to take his life,” Mildred Forrest said, her eyes hidden behind dark sunglasses she wore inside. “They didn’t have to shoot him down like a dog.”

A day after police arrested the man believed to have pulled the trigger in the July 26 robbery and shooting death of Vernon Forrest, Mildred Forrest and family gathered at the south Fulton County home he bought for her.

Mildred Forrest said she was at first a reluctant supporter of his pugilist ambitions.

“I really didn’t want him to get into it,” she said. “But it kept him out of trouble. And it’s something he always liked to do.”

And Mildred Forrest cheerfully recalled the day, seven years ago, when he surprised her with her home.

“He said, ‘Momma, I’m going to buy you a house,’” she said. “And we drove around [Atlanta] so I could pick which neighborhood I wanted to live in.”

A proud mother, twin display cases in her foyer show off, among other things, gloves he gave her after fights he won, his WBA and WBC welterweight World Championship belts — and two chilling mementos.

“These are the Gatorade bottles he bought the night he died,” older brother Alphonso said, pointing to the pair of orange sports drink bottles.

Mildred Forrest said the family was devastated when Atlanta police detectives told them on July 26 that Vernon had been shot and killed in an apparent robbery.

“It was horrible,” she said with a sigh. “It hurts so bad.”

But she was quickly fired up at the thought of anyone robbing her son.

“He would’ve given the shirt off his back if you asked,” Mildred Forrest said, as if talking to the three suspects. “If you wanted a watch and a ring that bad, get out and work for them like he did.”

She said the family hopes the stolen diamond and gold “4X” World Champion ring is returned, but noted, “it won’t bring back my son.”

Over the past nine days, authorities arrested all three men suspected of involvement in the July 26 robbery and slaying.

Security surveillance recorded Demario Ware, whom police have identified as the initial robber, running from an armed Vernon Forrest. Ware turned himself in after his picture appeared on America’s Most Wanted.

A day later, investigators arrested Jquante Crews, who police say was the get-away driver. Wednesday night, police and U.S. Marshalls nabbed the man they say was the gunman, Charmon Sinkfield.

“I want to see them prosecuted to the fullest,” she said. “I don’t want to see them out of jail any more.”

Her oldest daughter Sheila Houston said although the family still hurts, they are praying for the families of the suspects.

Alphonso Forrest expressed appreciation for the Atlanta Police, U.S. Marshals, and all the people who called in tips, and said the family would stay committed to seeing that each suspect convicted.

“We want to send a message to the people of Atlanta that we will not tolerate this type of crime any more,” he said. “Some people will feel a little safer tonight because those men are off the streets.”

Mildred Forrest said she’ll be at every court date Ware, Sinkfield and Crews have in the coming months.

But she has resolved that the outcome must be left to a higher power.

“I pray that God’s will be in this,” she said.