It’s been three months since Shaundelle Brooks lost her son, Akilah DaSilva, in the mass shooting at the Antioch Waffle House.
“I ask why all the time,” says Brooks. ”
In her first TV interview, the grieving mother told News 2 that Akilah’s death has left a hole in their tight-knit family.
“I would’ve taken his place because I feel that’s how life is supposed to be. You’re not supposed to die before your parents.”
Brooks said the 23-year-old was creative and dedicated to his family. He left MTSU, where he was pursuing a computer engineering degree, to work full time to support the family.
“There was a time I needed him, and he took off those semesters so he could work full time,” she said. “This child was beyond and I would tell him that all the time. I would call him a prophet because of the person and the kind of a person he was.”
The nickname “prophet” became the title of one of her son’s songs.
Next to family, music was Akilah’s second love. He often collaborated with his older brother, Abede.
Abede DaSilva was with Akilah during the 42 seconds of gunfire in the Waffle House. He held his brother after the shooting.
“I didn’t want to move or turn him, so I just put my arm around his back and just laid there talking to him,” DaSilva told News 2. “I said It’s your arm. You’re going to make it, you’re going to be OK. He believed me. I believed it too. “I wasn’t just saying it just to make him feel better. I really believed what I was saying.”
Abede DaSilva and Shaundelle Brooks have filed separate lawsuits against shooting suspect Travis Reinking and his father Jeffrey Reinking.
“I just want them to not show any leniency or any mercy,” said Abede DaSilva. “He didn’t show any mercy to us, he was trying to kill all of us.”
The lawsuits claim Travis Reinking’s father contributed to the Waffle House shooting by returning guns to his unstable son after police in Illinois revoked his firearm owner’s identification card on orders from the FBI.
“I definitely want to make sure they’re held accountable and that he gets justice. Not just justice but justice he deserves.”
Meanwhile, the rest of the family continues to hurt and try to heal.
“We are a really tight-knit family so without him it’s definitely like a piece of us is missing,” said Akilah’s sister Amber DaSilva. “It will never be the same.”
“He was like a smart person and he knew almost everything you could ask him,” said DaSilva’s 12-year-old Aldane. “He was such a joyful person and if you asked to do something for you or buy something for you, he would do it.”
Travis Reinking’s preliminary hearing is August 24. DaSilva’s family said they will be there for every step of the court process.