Mary Smalls heard the ambulance siren early Sunday from her Cedar Street town house but didn't know it was for her son, gunned down as he left a club with his brother and two friends.
One friend, who wasn't injured, ran four blocks from the scene of the downtown Charleston shooting to tell the family. They then rushed to the 400 block of North Nassau Street and found a horrific sight. Shamell Smalls, 23, and friend Michael Harding, 27, lay wounded on the ground by the back door of their car.
"I kept saying, 'I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you,' " Mary Smalls said, but she knew as she knelt by her son that he would not survive. "When I felt the pain in my heart, I knew he was gone."
Shamell Smalls and Harding later died at Medical University Hospital.
Detectives weren't sure of a motive Monday but issued warrants for the arrests of Edwin Littman and Eric Jenkins on two counts of murder each, Charleston police Lt. Richard Moser said. Both are 26 and there are no known addresses for either, Moser said.
Littman has past convictions for assault and battery with intent to kill in 2001, failure to stop for a blue light and sirens and possession of a stolen vehicle in 2003, and distributing cocaine in 2004, State Law Enforcement Division records show.
Jenkins has convictions for unlawful carrying of a weapon in 1998, distributing crack cocaine in 2003 and distributing crack cocaine in 2005, his state record shows.
While police continue to investigate the shootings, the Smalls and Harding families called the violence senseless.
The men had gone to Satchmo's club at the corner of Isabella and North Nassau streets to watch the Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight, which started around 11:30 p.m. Saturday. Shamell Smalls had planned to watch the battle for the World Boxing Council Light Middleweight title from his mother's house, but the cable company failed to connect the Pay Per View, Mary Smalls said.
The men piled into a rented white Chrysler 300 driven by Mary Smalls' oldest son, Quincy Smalls, and headed to Satchmo's. They were leaving the club at 12:30 a.m. Sunday when they were ambushed, Mary Smalls said. They reached the car about half a block away but never made it inside.
The Chrysler was full of bullet holes, Moser said. Numerous shell casings fired from multiple weapons were found at the scene. Quincy Smalls and another man, known only as San Antonio, weren't hit by the gunfire, the Smalls family said.
"This is a mean world out there. I just want the violence to stop," said Harding's mother, Ruth Ann Harrison.
Harding is the father of a little girl and has another child due in December, she said.
"They took a loving, devoted father away from his child. I'm hurt. I really am hurt about it," she said.
Smalls is also a father. His son was born three weeks ago, his mother said.
Quincy Smalls' wife, LaToya Smalls, said there was no confrontation in Satchmo's before the shooting. The only explanation she could offer for the shooting was a turf war of East vs. West Charleston.
"West, north, east, south, all of them are Charleston," Mary Smalls said Monday, shaking her head sadly as gospel music filled the air outside her town house.
Mayor Joe Riley issued a statement Sunday calling the double homicide a tragedy for the families that underscores the need for reforms he's called for in the criminal justice system.
"While we don't yet know all the details of these shootings, we do know that other recent homicides where the victim and suspects alike have long criminal records but are still on our streets cry out for action on the part of our General Assembly. We must have strong penalties that keep behind bars those who think they can bring a culture of lawlessness into our community," Riley said.
Harding's criminal history shows six felony convictions since 1997, most on drug charges, according to SLED. Shamell Smalls' history shows two misdemeanor convictions since 2006, one a drug case.
Noah Haglund contributed to this report. Reach Nita Birmingham at nbirmingham@ postandcourier.com or 745-5858.