The mother of a man shot to death after a Stone Mountain funeral June 7 said she never thought she would be in this “predicament.”
“I never knew that phone call I got on June 7 would be my last time speaking with my son,” said Tracey Benton Henderson, whose 19-year-old son Carlos was one of two men who died after a shooting following a funeral held at Victory for the World Church in Stone Mountain.
“There’s not enough words to express the pain that my family feels right now,” said Henderson during a youth violence summit and interfaith prayer vigil sponsored by DeKalb County government June 20.
Henderson said the shooting that claimed her son’s life was not gang-related and that some funeral attendees have told her family that her son saved their lives.
“If my son had not acted in the manner that he did there were other lives that would have been taken,” Henderson said.
According to DeKalb County Police statements, Carlos Henderson and Delmetrius Heard, 28, killed each other in an altercation that broke out on the church parking lot at the conclusion of a funeral for 19-year-old Ryan Guider, who was shot to death May 26 in what police say may have been an act of vengeance.
After getting into a fight with a group of people outside the church, Henderson got a gun from his car.
Heard then got a gun from his car and the shooting started, according to police statements. Two other people received injuries that were not life threatening.
“I see more violence here than I did in Iraq,” said Carlos’ brother, Army Specialist Harrison Benton. “Violence is not the answer. Period. A life for a life don’t equal a life.
“If y’all really understand the pain to lose a little brother, I guarantee y’all would second guess everything you do in life,” Benton said.
“I would have took a bullet for [my brother] but that wasn’t my job that day,” Benton said. “My brother left me with a lot of work. I’ve got to save a lot of lives for him now.”
DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis said the “senseless killings…rock the very foundation of our community.”
“It happened right here in Stone Mountain, Ga,” Ellis said. “It could have happened in any community in the United States.”
Ellis said youth violence is reaching “epidemic proportions” in the United States with far-reaching effects.
“Now is not the time to acquiesce, to turn a blind eye and accept youth violence as the status quo in our community,” Ellis said.
“That’s not the end of the story and that’s why we’re here tonight,” Ellis said. “The story is that we’re not victims. The story is that we’re overcomers. Even when we are faced with times that we don’t understand, there’s a force that’s greater than any other force. There’s a God that we serve.”
In his prayer, Ken Samuel, pastor of the church where the shootings occurred, said, “We share…a common desire and that is to make this community a safe place. This is a battle that we cannot afford to lose because our future hangs in the balance.”