A pair of teenagers were arrested and accused of fatally shooting a 13-month-old baby in the face and wounding his mother during their morning stroll through a leafy, historic neighbourhood.
Sherry West had just been to the post office a few blocks from her apartment Thursday morning and was pushing her son, Antonio, in his stroller while they walked past gnarled oak trees and blooming azaleas in the coastal city of Brunswick.
West said a tall, skinny teenager, accompanied by a smaller boy, asked her for money.
"He asked me for money and I said I didn't have it," she told The Associated Press from her apartment, which was scattered with her son's toys and movies.
"When you have a baby, you spend all your money on babies. They're expensive. And he kept asking and I just said 'I don't have it.' And he said, 'Do you want me to kill your baby?' And I said, 'No, don't kill my baby!"'
One of the teens fired four shots, grazing West's ear and striking her in the leg, before he walked around to the stroller and shot the baby in the face.
Seventeen-year-old De'Marquis Elkins is charged as an adult with first-degree murder, along with a 14-year-old who was not identified because he is a juvenile, Police Chief Tobe Green said.
Police announced the arrest Friday afternoon after combing school records and canvassing neighbourhoods searching for the pair. The chief said the motive was still under investigation and the weapon had not been found.
West said detectives showed her mugshots of about 24 young men. She pointed to one, saying he looked like the gunman.
"After I picked him, they said they had him in custody," West said.
West said she thought the other suspect looked much younger: "That little boy did not look 14."
The slaying happened around the corner from West's apartment in the city's Old Town historic district. It is a street lined with grand Victorian homes from the late 1800s. Most have been neatly restored by their owners. Others, with faded and flaking paint, have been divided into rental units like the apartment West shared with her son. The slain boy's father, Luis Santiago, lives in a house across the street.
Santiago came over on Friday and scooped up an armload of his son's stuffed animals, saying he wanted to take them home with him. He talked about Antonio's first birthday on February 5 and how they had tried different party hats on the boy.
"He's all right," Santiago told the boy's mother, trying to smile.
West mourned the milestones that will never come, like Antonio's first day at school.
"I'm always going to wonder what his first word would be," West said.
It's not the mother's first loss of a child to violence. West said her 18-year-old son, Shaun Glassey, was killed in with a steak knife during an attack involving several other teens on a dark street corner in Gloucester County, New Jersey.
"He and some other boys were going to ambush a kid," Bernie Weisenfeld, a spokesman for the county prosecutor's office, told the AP Friday.
Glassey was armed with a knife, but the 17-year-old target of the attack was able to get the knife away from him "and Glassey ended up on the wrong end of the knife," Weisenfeld recalled.
Prosecutors decided the 17-year-old would not be charged because they determined that he acted in self-defence.