Antonio Santiago celebrates his first Christmas in December 2012.
(Photo: Sherry West via AP)
17-year-old De'Marquise Kareem Elkins(Photo: Glynn County Sheriff's Office)
Georgia police Friday charged two teens with murder a day after a 13-month-old boy was shot dead in his stroller and his mother wounded during a holdup.
Seventeen-year-old De'Marquise Kareem Elkins, the suspected gunman, was charged as an adult with first-degree murder, said Brunswick Police Chief Tobe Green. A 14-year-old companion was also charged with murder but was not identified because he is a juvenile. They were arrested early Friday.
Sherry West said she and her 13-month-old son, Antonio Santiago, were on a walk about 9 a.m. Thursday when they were approached by two young men. The older teen brandished a handgun and demanded money.
After telling him she didn't have any money, the gunman then asked, "Do you want me to kill your baby?" West told the Associated Press.
West said he fired the first shot into the ground, then shot her in the left ear and upper left leg. The gunman then walked around the stroller and shot her child once in the face, killing him instantly.
Police have not identified the caliber of weapon used.
Several residents of the historic Old Town section of Brunswick, about 80 miles south of Savannah, called 911 after they heard the gunshots, but police said West was the only witness.
Brunswick police checked the attendance records of area schools to see who was missing or absent from class Thursday, and officers with automatic weapons went door to door in a 100-block area searching for the suspects into Thursday night.
Police had offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction.
West described the incident in a tearful interview with WAWS-TV of Jacksonville, Fla. "He said, 'I'm going to kill you if you don't give me money,' and I said, 'I swear I don't have any,'" she said.
West said she tried to protect her baby. "I put my arms over my baby, and he shoves me, and then he shot my baby right in the head," she told WAWS.
The baby's father, Louis Santiago, said before the arrests that he had forgiven the killers.
"I forgive them, but they're going to have to pay for the consequences," he told WJXT-TV in Jacksonville. "They took somebody I really love. I was going to enjoy my life with him. We had plans for college and everything."
West lives in a rented house in the Brunswick's Old Town historic district. Beverly Anderson's husband owns the property, and she told AP that West has lived there for six or seven years. Anderson said she spoke with her yesterday to extend her condolences and see if there was anything she could do for her.
"We're just very sorry about what happened and very aghast that something could happen in our little neighborhood," Anderson told AP. "It's a quiet, safe little neighborhood."
Anderson said people walk up and down the street, children walk to school and families are frequently outdoors. "It's scared everybody," she said. "They don't feel so safe outside."
She said West stayed home to care for her baby, who was often spotted in his mother's arms.
"The house has a front porch with a swing, and we'd see him out on the swing with his mother," Anderson said. "He was a happy, cheerful baby."
It's not the mother's first loss of a child to violence. West said her 18-year-old son, Shaun Glassey, was killed in New Jersey in 2008.