BRUNSWICK, Ga. — Two teenagers were arrested Friday and accused of fatally shooting a 13-month-old baby in the face and wounding his mother during their morning stroll through a leafy, historic neighborhood.
Sherry West had just been to the post office a few blocks from her apartment Thursday morning and was pushing her son, Antonio, in his stroller while they walked past oak trees and blooming azaleas in the coastal city of Brunswick.
West said a tall, skinny teenager, accompanied by a smaller boy, asked her for money.
“He asked me for money and I said I didn’t have it,” she said Friday from her apartment, which was scattered with her son’s toys and movies.
“When you have a baby, you spend all your money on babies. They’re expensive. And he kept asking and I just said ‘I don’t have it.’ And he said, ‘Do you want me to kill your baby?’ And I said, ‘No, don’t kill my baby!’ ”
One of the teens fired four shots, grazing West’s ear and striking her in the leg, before he walked around to the stroller and shot the baby in the face.
De’Marquis Elkins, 17, is charged as an adult with first-degree murder, along with a 14-year-old who was not identified because he is a juvenile, Police Chief Tobe Green said.
Police announced the arrest Friday after combing school records and canvassing neighborhoods searching for the pair. The chief said the motive of the “horrendous act” was still under investigation, and the weapon had not been found.
“I feel glad that justice will be served,” West said. “It’s not something I’m going to live with very well. I’m just glad they caught him.”
West said detectives showed her mugshots of about 24 young men. She pointed to one, saying he looked like the gunman.
“After I picked him, they said they had him in custody,” West said. “It looked just like him. So I think we got our man.”
West said she thought the other suspect looked much younger. “That little boy did not look 14.”
The slaying happened around the corner from West’s apartment in the city’s Old Town historic district. It’s a street lined with grand Victorian homes from the late 1800s. Most have been neatly restored by their owners.
Others, with faded and flaking paint, have been divided into rental units like the apartment West shared with her son.
The slain boy’s father, Luis Santiago, lives in a house across the street.
A neighbor dropped off a fruit basket and then a pot of coffee Friday as a friend from the post office dropped by to comfort West.
Santiago came and went. At one point he scooped up an armload of his son’s stuffed animals, saying he wanted to take them home with him. He talked about Antonio’s first birthday on Feb. 5 and how they had tried different party hats on the boy.
“He’s all right,” Santiago told the boy’s mother, trying to smile. “He’s potty training upstairs in heaven.”
Beverly Anderson, whose husband owns the property where West has lived for several years, said she was stunned by the violence in what generally is known as a safe neighborhood where children walk to school and families are frequently outdoors.
Jonathan Mayes and his wife were walking their dogs Friday, right past the crime scene, and said they’ve never felt nervous about being out after dark.
“What is so mind-numbing about this is we don’t have this kind of stuff happen here,” Mayes said. “You expect that kind of crap in Atlanta.”
This Friday, March 22, 2013 photo provided by the Glynn County Detention Center shows De'Marquise Elkins, 17, one of two teenagers arrested Friday and accused of fatally shooting a 13-month-old baby in the face and wounding his mother during their morning stroll in Brunswick, Ga. Elkins is charged as an adult with first-degree murder, along with a 14-year-old who was not identified because he is a juvenile, Police Chief Tobe Green said. (AP Photo/Courtesy of the Glynn County Detention Center)×
Sherry West breaks down in tears as she describes the incident the day before where her 13-month-old son was fatally shot and she was wounded Friday, March 22, 2013 in Brunswick, Ga. West said Friday a teenager trying to rob her at gunpoint asked "Do you want me to kill your baby?" before he fatally shot her 13-month-old son in the head. (AP Photo/The Brunswick News, Bobby Haven)×