UPDATE: Teenage victim of violence laid to rest
A young teenager victim to violence was laid to rest Monday in Chattanooga.
Deontrey Southers, 13, was shot inside his E. 50th St. home last week. He died on the way to the hospital. Police haven't charged anyone in the teen's death. But fear of retaliation didn't stop hundreds from paying their respects today.
On an otherwise busy Dodds Avenue, traffic stopped for 13-year-old Deontrey Southers and the funeral procession for a life lost too soon.
"It's a shame that a child this young, he had so much life in him, he had a full life ahead. All this violence and everything needs to STOP," said Maria Johnson.
Maria Johnson and her 9-year-old son Jarvis Craw used to live next to Deontrey. They said they moved from their E. 50th St. home because it didn't feel safe.
"I didn't have no issues with him or nothing. It was like he was the first friend that I ever made," said Jarvis Craw. "He was always there for me and, you know, he was my best friend."
Jarvis and Deontrey were cousins, buddies at the bus stop and teammates in sports. Deontrey was a linebacker for his Eastlake Academy football team.
"He took good care. He made sure he'd walk him to school, walk him to the bus stop every day, then he'd make sure I was at home. He'd knock on the door and say, 'I just wanted to make sure you were here.' He was a good child," said Johnson.
Half a dozen police cars were parked near the funeral with officers strolling on foot outside and inside the funeral home. One active community member said scenes like this are becoming all too common.
"This here should be the straw that breaks the camel's back. This child's death should not go unresolved," said Chester Heathington. "I hope this right here will be the pivotal point where the community says, hey let's stop, let's start saving ourselves and our young people."
Chester Heathington didn't know Deontrey or the young boy's family but he showed up for support and to call for an end to the violence. He said someone has information about Deontrey's death and needs to come forward to police.
Squad cars sat outside East Lake Academy Wednesday. Less than two days before Southers, an eighth grader at the school, was shot in the chest while inside his home on East 50th street. He died on the way to the hospital.
Those who knew him say Southers was a part of the school's football team and was an active member in a youth mentoring program.
Channel 3 spoke with Mayor Andy Berke about this tragedy while he was in Washington D.C. this past week.
"I have a 13-year-old daughter and so the death of this 13-year-old boy certainly resonated with me.," Berke says. "Right now I know that everyone is trying to make some sense out of what is senseless violence."
Funeral arraignments for Southers are being held by Franklin Funeral Home on Dodd's Avenue. It starts at 11 a.m. Monday. Meanwhile, Berke says this is a critical time for Chattanooga as his Violence Reduction Initiative is preparing to launch.