Friends of a Charleston teenager who was fatally stabbed last week gathered Monday to remember him with a candlelight vigil and were greeted with the news that a suspect was arrested.
Brandon Bennett, 18, was stabbed at his home on Congress Street at about 8 a.m. Wednesday.
Terrell Smith, 17, of Audubon Avenue in North Charleston was arrested Monday, Mayor Joe Riley said at the Waterfront Park vigil.
"The young man who took Brandon's life has been arrested and is in custody and being extradited back to South Carolina, and he will be held accountable," Riley said to cheers from the crowd of about 200 dressed mostly in white and carrying blue balloons and candles.
According to Charleston police, Smith was taken into custody by the U.S. Marshals Task Force in another state. He was wanted for murder, attempted murder, first-degree burglary and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime, according to police. The investigation is ongoing and police did not specify in a release which state Smith was arrested.
Brandon's mother, Latrease Bennett, said the arrest is an answer to her prayers.
"I was praying that he'd get caught before Wednesday, before the funeral, and now a piece of me is healed," she said. "Most people wouldn't be smiling at this point, but that made me so very happy that he is caught."
She said she'd like to talk to the suspect to try to understand why he stabbed her son.
"If he asked Brandon for anything, Brandon would have given him anything," she said. "Brandon befriended him. Brandon was more a friend to him than he was to Brandon, as we can see. He didn't deserve this, not at all."
Darryl Bennett, Brandon's father, chased an assailant away from his home Wednesday morning before returning inside to find his son, stabbed, sitting in a storage room off a back bedroom of the house, police said. Brandon died at 8:21 a.m. Wednesday at Medical University Hospital.
"I can't talk about the specifics of what went on, but he was a hero till the end," said Darryl Bennett.
On Monday, friends remembered him as a friendly guy who liked to laugh.
"He would make a joke out of any situation," said friend Paris Simmons.
Latrease Bennett said he was "a sweet, adorable young man. You could meet him and in less than 5 minutes you instantly became his friend ... I am holding on with the spirit of Brandon ... I am thankful of the person he was and I am thankful of the time that we had together."
Darryl Bennett agreed.
Even though he and Brandon's mother are not together, he said his son had the support of both parents.
"If we can raise a great kid like Brandon, so can you," he said. "Show your kids that you care ... Love your kids. Hold them close. Let them know that you love them. Nobody's promised tomorrow."
Smith was arrested on narcotics charges March 12 and released from jail on his own recognizance, according to court records. He was scheduled to face a judge on that charge June 20.
Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713 or @brindge on Twitter.
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