Army Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Hollington was serving in Germany last week when he received word that his only son was dead.
Daniel Kareem Patterson had been gunned down in a North Charleston community. The 22-year-old Charleston man took his last breath at Medical University Hospital while doctors worked to repair his wounds.
Hollington boarded a plane home to be with his family.
And while still mourning the life of his son, Hollington stood Tuesday in a Charleston County court and forgave the man accused of firing the fatal shot.
Twenty-six-year-old Bobby William Johnson Jr., of North Charleston, is charged with murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime.
He surrendered to North Charleston police Monday night and later appeared in bond court via video teleconferencing from the Charleston County jail.
"We have a lot in common now," Hollington said to Johnson during Tuesday's hearing. "One thing that we have in common is something we have to live with for the rest of our lives. ... I forgive (Johnson). I have to forgive him, I'm a Christian. I only ask that in his own time, whether he stays in or he gets out, that he'll change his life and do what's right."
Charleston County Magistrate Linda Lombard denied bail on the murder charge and set bail at $50,000 on the weapons charge. Only a circuit judge can set bail on a murder charge.
While addressing the court, Hollington said that he initially felt anger toward Johnson. His Christian values and kindness displayed by the suspect's family shortly before the hearing are what led him to forgive, he said.
"I have no ill will toward the family. They're not to blame. They're not the one who pulled the trigger," Hollington said.
Tears fell from the eyes of Patterson's mother as she addressed the court, her gaze intent on the ground. She also uttered words of forgiveness toward Johnson, though she said she couldn't yet bring herself to look at the man accused of slaying her son.
Johnson thanked both parents for their kindness and offered repeated apologies.
"I'm sorry. This ain't supposed to happen like this," Johnson said.
The fatal encounter between Johnson and Patterson occurred shortly before midnight on April 1.
Patterson was dating the mother of Johnson's young son, investigators determined.
The couple arrived at Johnson's Woodlawn Avenue home that night to pick up the child, police said.
An argument ensued between Johnson and Patterson and gunshots followed.
According to an arrest affidavit, Johnson fled the scene in a white Buick before authorities arrived at the scene.
First responders reported seeing Patterson lying facedown and bleeding from a bullet wound to his abdomen. He was rushed to Medical University Hospital where he died from his wounds.
An arrest warrant was issued for Johnson on April 2 and police asked the public for help locating him. He evaded capture for a week before surrendering to police late Monday.
Johnson's family offered their condolences to Patterson's family Tuesday morning. The two families embraced after exiting the courtroom.
According to Hollington, Patterson was a loving, hard-working man who helped provide for multiple households. Patterson had no children, Hollington said, but he cared for Johnson's son as though he were his own.
"That's my boy," Hollington said, smiling with pride.
He then paused for a beat, reminded of his grief.
"That was my boy," he said.
Reach Christina Elmore at 937-5908 or at Twitter.com/celmorePC.