SMYRNA, Tenn. (WKRN) — Family is something that is often taken for granted, but is always there when needed. It’s a reality the Williams family is living through after a 5-year-old boy was shot and killed at a local basketball court.
Police think LaVonte’e Williams accidentally shot himself with his father’s gun, but his grandmother is asking for prayers and for others not to make assumptions.
“Being a woman of faith, I just started to pray to myself that whatever God decided, I was going to trust him,” said Tanika Jones.
It’s that trust that she still holds onto. Jones is known in the family as being the rock, carrying the grief of others.
At just five years old, it seems like you have nothing but time, but just after 7 p.m. Monday night, the clock stood still.
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“My daughter called me pretty hysterical and told me to get to the hospital in Smyrna, and L.J had been shot,” Jones said. “I was asking, ‘What do you mean shot? Stonecrest? What is happening? What are we going to do? How do we deal with this?'”
Jones’ grandson, LaVonte’e, was shot at the Lee Victory Recreation Park in Smyrna, near the basketball courts. Shortly after the shooting, Williams was rushed to the hospital, where he died.
Now, thoughts and pictures of his smiling face are what the family holds onto.
“He was very sweet; he loved people, loved his family. He thought of himself as the little protector,” described Jones. “He was just a good kid and loved life and took every second of it.”
Jones sat down with News 2 and spoke about LaVonte’e’s love for sports, specifically football. At a young age, he often would talk about becoming a football player when he grew up, and if not, he would love to be a firefighter.
“Every day for the rest of my life will be incomplete. I will never be okay. The only peace I have is knowing he was baptized on Sunday, so I know he made it to Jesus and is resting in His arms. Please continue to pray for my family. Arrangements have not been made and we ask that you respect our space and privacy at this time. God bless you all,” wrote Miracle Williams under the GoFundMe fundraiser started to help with funeral costs.
Outside of the basketball court now sits a memorial in his honor. People who were there when the shooting happened stopped to drop off flowers, stuffed animals and balloons next to a pole.
During a time when it seems so important, answers are something the family can’t give right now, but instead are asking for others to stop and take a moment to understand.
“Remember, regardless of the circumstance, it’s tragic all the way around, and instead of making assumptions just pray for us, and love on us because that’s all we need right now,” said Jones.