It's a headline from one of the most terrifying stories of 2015 that should still send chills down your spine. Four black males participate in a home invasion of a young white family in Atlanta, shooting the white father and then shooting at the white mother after she pleaded with them not to shoot... because she had a baby. [Atlanta home invasion: ‘Please don’t shoot, I have a little baby’, AJC.com, August 19, 2015]:
Michael Lash knew he had a broken leg and he couldn’t feel his other foot. One bullet had gone in the front of his thigh and out the back.
While trying to protect his wife and two young children, the northwest Atlanta father was shot in both legs Sunday evening, the beginning of a few terrifying moments for the family. As Lash was recovering Tuesday, Atlanta police were investigating the home invasion, hopeful that security cameras on neighboring homes and evidence left behind would help identify the suspects.Why rehash this horrifying story?
The Lash family had just returned to their Sumter Street home from vacation Sunday night when two male teenagers approached Lash on his front porch, witnesses told police. The teens — one in a yellow shirt, the other in a red one — asked if they could borrow a jack for their car and tried to force their way inside as two other teens stood across the street, police said.
When Lash tried to close the door, he was shot by the teen in yellow, who had a short afro and tattoos and piercings on his face, Lash was able to tell witnesses and police.
Inside the home, Lash’s wife, Whitney, heard the shots, grabbed the couple’s 6-month-old daughter and ran toward the back door, her mother, Jessica Huffman, told Channel 2 Action News. Whitney Lash called 911, and in a hushed voice, told the operator her husband had been shot.
“I just ran outside with my baby,” the mother said in the 911 call.
The suspects fired two shots at the mother, but missed her as she ran out the back door and to a nearby home for help.
“He followed her and caught up with her at the gate and she turned around and said, ‘Please don’t shoot me, I have a little baby,’” Huffman said.
|Brandon Jerome Smith, Vashawn Smith, Trequan Sutton and Quindarius Slade: the four black males who threatened the Lash family, with Brandon opening fire on Whitney after she said, "please don't shoot, I have a little baby."|
Because it has an even more horrifying postscript: the white family has forgiven those blacks who nearly took the entire's family life, including opening fire upon Whitney after she pleaded with them not to shoot at her... because she had a baby. [Suspect pleads guilty, gets life plus in violent Atlanta home invasion, AJC.com, 1-28-16]:
Michael Lash may never regain feeling in one foot after being shot in both legs. Though his wife and baby daughter weren’t physically injured in a violent home invasion in northwest Atlanta, the two dodged bullets by inches."One lapse of judgement," Mr. Judge?
Still, the couple has forgiven the four teenagers responsible, the Lashes said Thursday morning in a Fulton County courtroom. The first of four suspects accused in the shooting, meanwhile, offered no apologies while pleading guilty.
Brandon Jerome Smith, who turned 19 on Jan. 21, was sentenced to life in prison, plus 20 years and an additional five years for the violent home invasion in August. The sentence means Smith will likely spend at least 45 years in prison, prosecutors said.
Smith never spoke to Michael and Whitney Lash, both seated in the courtroom with family members, or glanced at them. But he quietly responded to questions about whether he understood the conditions of a plea deal.
“Yes, ma’am,” Smith said, barely audible, even through a microphone.
Smith’s attorney said he was under the influence of a variety of drugs the day he led three other teenagers to the Lash family home on Sumter Street. After growing up in poverty and surrounded by drug use and violence, Smith also began using drugs as a child, his attorney said. Marijuana, cocaine and prescription drugs were included.
But in statements to the court, the Lashes said Smith and his co-defendants could have run away instead of forcing their way into the family’s home.
“It did grip the city,” Judge Henry Newkirk told the court. “It is a family’s worst nightmare.”
The remaining three defendants — Veshawn Smith, 15, and Trequan Sutton and Quindarius Slade, both 16, each pleaded guilty Thursday afternoon and were sentenced to 18 years in prison.
“All it takes is one lapse in judgment and it can terribly affect your lives,” Newkirk said. “You will get out of prison one day, and believe it not, it’s going to be sooner rather than later.”