His mother, Courtney Dillard, worried about gun violence and was protective of her children.
“I didn’t want to be one of the other moms doing what the other parents are doing and grieving,” Dillard told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Now she knows that pain. Jakari wasn’t even involved with the argument that led to the gunfire, his family said.
Dillard had allowed four of her children and their aunt to go to the pool on a steamy summer afternoon. Later on, she got a phone call that sent her racing to the pool. Jakari had been shot by another teen, Dillard said.
Dillard said she beat the ambulance to the pool. When she saw her son bleeding from the chest, she knew it wasn’t good.
“I told him to try to hold on, help is on the way,” she said Monday.
She held Jakari’s hand. But his injuries were too severe. He died after arriving at the hospital.
Dillard is at least the fifth youth killed by gunfire in Atlanta this year, according to police. Earlier this month, a 14-year-old boy was killed and two other teens were injured after a massive brawl ended in gunfire in Atlanta, authorities said. Nearly 50 teenagers were present when the melee broke out in the 600 block of McAfee Street, police previously said.
Dillard is relieved that police have identified the person suspected of killing her son, she told the AJC. She hopes the suspect is in custody soon.
Officials announced Sunday afternoon that all city of Atlanta pools had been closed. But the shooting death was not mentioned.
On Monday, Dillard, her children and their aunt discussed Jakari’s final moments, as well as how they’ll remember the teenager. Jakari, who would have been in the 12th grade at Life Christian Academy in Forest Park, had recently told his mom he was looking forward to his senior prom.
“He was very family-oriented,” Dillard said. “He was an amazing child. I couldn’t ask for a better child.”
Jamarcus Dillard, who turns 19 next month, said an argument over a pool game led to the shooting. A teenager that Jamarcus didn’t know got upset when his younger brother didn’t get into the pool fast enough for a game called “Sharks in the middle.”
Then, that teenager hit his 16-year-old brother, Jamarcus said. A friend of the unknown teenager joined in the fight. At some point, the teen who started the fight grabbed a gun from his bag, Jamarcus said.
When he heard a gunshot, Jamarcus said he thought it had been fired in the air.
“Jakari got out of the pool and he didn’t know what happened,” he said. “When I looked, I saw Jakari on the ground.”
By then, the shooter ran from the area. The homicide remained under investigation Monday, according to police.
Now, Courtney Dillard says she would like to see metal detectors at the pools when they are reopened. And she must plan a funeral for her son, killed despite her efforts to keep him away from violence. A GoFundMe page was created to assist the family.
“I’m traumatized, seeing him taking his last breaths,” Jamarcus said.