Mom hears shots outside, then a groan from son's room

After hours of PlayStation with a friend, Tre Shambry took a bath Monday night.

The 13-year-old was excited about his new school, Creekland Middle in Lawrenceville, especially about the football weight-training he was to attend Tuesday. He told his mom he absolutely had to be there on time, if not early.

Tre turned off the TV in his bedroom. He started climbing the ladder to the top of his bunk bed.

At that moment, Tijuana Shambry heard four gunshots from the parking lot. Then a yell, and a groan, she'll never forget.

"I was running to the window in my bedroom, going to call 911 thinking someone was shot outside," the 37-year-old mother of three told the AJC. "I heard him yell and groan, and my [9- and 10-year-old] girls were screaming.  I see him bent over on this huge bean bag. He was breathing barely, but he wasn't responding.

"I was going to call 911 no matter who it was, but it was my son who was actually hit," she continued, sobbing in disbelief. "My son was actually hit. It's ridiculous."

The stray bullet, from a fight at the Holland Park apartments, hit Tre in his abdomen, his mom said. Her daughters happened to be near Tre's room and saw him fall from the bed, Shambry said.

Shambry and her girls tried frantically to hold back the blood. They pressed a towel to Tre, waiting for paramedics.

Tre died later at Gwinnett Medical Center.

His death came 11 days after Shambry, in a trial separation from her husband, moved from Acworth to the apartment complex.  Shambry picked Holland Park because she was told it was very safe and in a good school district.

Tre hoped to play wide receiver for the Collins Hill High School Eagles. He watched videos of NFL receivers, studying their technique. He was thrilled to be working out with the Collins Hill freshman team.

"When the first weight training session was over last Thursday, he was jogging out," Shambry said. "He was ready to go. He felt he was just as good as anyone there and he wanted to make sure he shined."

When Tre talked to his grandfather in Mississippi last week, he asked Albert Robinson if he'd come  watch him play football.

"I said, ‘Sure. I'll be there,'" Robinson recalled.

Monday was  "the worst night of my life," the grandfather added.

Police received several calls around 10 p.m. Monday from residents reporting gunshots at the complex, which is on Holland Place near Lawrenceville. About the same time, Shambry called 911 saying her son had been shot.

The shots apparently originated from a corner of the parking lot between two buildings. One shot pierced Tre's bedroom window.

Gwinnett police spokesman Officer Brian Kelly said detectives were still trying to determine what led to the shooting.

"It appears that at least two suspects were engaged in some form of argument when the victim was unintentionally shot," he said. "It is possible that the parties responsible are unaware that a person was struck by their gunshots."

Kelly said  investigators were still interviewing witnesses, but believed the suspects left in separate vehicles.

"Witnesses stated that they saw a red passenger-type vehicle and a silver or gray vehicle leave the complex shortly after the shooting," he said. He asked that anyone with information on the incident call detectives at 770-513-5300.

Referring to the shooter, Kelly added: "If they were any kind of person, they would step up to the plate and say  I didn't mean for this 13-year-old to die. In the long run I think they'd be better off in the courts if they turned themselves in before investigators found them."

It was Gwinnett's first homicide in 2010.

Sgt. Edward Restrepo, who supervises the police homicide unit, said homicides involving juveniles are unusual.

The Holland Park apartment complex off McKendree Church Road near Riverside Parkway is relatively large and gated. Each of its three-story buildings is neatly trimmed with brick and vinyl siding. Children are a common sight within the community, which boasts a playground and pool. McKendree Elementary School is just half a mile away.

Police said there had been recent property crimes in the neighborhood.

"It's been steadily going downhill, but they were using private security services," Restrepo said.

Security officers were working when the shooting occurred and heard the gunshots, Restrepo said. However, they did not see the altercation. Investigators planned to canvass the neighborhood again Tuesday evening.

Meanwhile, the Gwinnett school system sent counselors to Creekland and sent a letter home telling parents about Tre's death.

An honors student at McClure Middle in Paulding County, Tre made a lot of close friends through football, his mom said.

"All the football players loved him," she said. "He was a person who made peace on the team. He avoided altercations. He didn't like confrontations.

"Every other weekend, players would spend the night with us or he'd spend it with them. He loved everybody."

Michael Morris, coach of the 7th- and 8th-grade teams at McClure, called Tre a leader who helped build membership in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

His former teammates are "completely torn out of the frame," Morris said. "It's a very, very difficult day for us."

Funeral arrangements have not been made.

-- Staff writers Mike Morris and Andria Simmons contributed to this article.