By Alva James-Johnson – The Ledger-Enquirer
The funeral for Deonn Carter, the beloved autistic shooting victim whose untimely death rocked the Columbus community, drew hundreds of public safety personnel to Cascades Hills Church for a homegoing fit for a fallen comrade.
Public Safety honor guards saluted as Carter’s family filed solemnly into the sanctuary. At the front was an opal blue casket draped with custom-made afghan blankets from the Columbus Police Department and the Muscogee County Sheriff’s Office. Atop the casket lay a floral arrangement accented with a firefighter’s helmet, a wide-brimmed police hat and a police badge.
Relatives seated in the front row included Carter’s mother, Suzette Ragland; his father, Freddie Carter; and his sister, Kimillia Carter. Bishop L.D. Skinner Sr., the Rev. Adrian Chester and Pastor Chase Welch officiated the service. Welch presented the eulogy, describing Carter as a man who held no malice and had forgiven those who shot him before he died.
Among those who attended the funeral Friday were Mayor Teresa Tomlinson and Police Chief Ricky Boren.
“We are all here today because we were touched by a man, a man who truly loved everybody,” said Welch, the pastor of Love Revolution Church, where Carter served as a deacon. “Only love could bring this many different kinds of people together. I’m talking about people of different classes, if there’s even such a thing; people of different ages; people of different races, ethnicities; people of different denominations and political backgrounds.
“God chose him in his mother’s womb to teach people in this city of Columbus, Georgia, and around the world, how to love everybody and point people to Jesus Christ, and my, my, my, did he do a wonderful job,” the pastor continued. “We don’t always know why bad things happen to good people. But in this case, we have some strong evidence. God never wastes a hurt. He never wastes a tragedy. He never wastes pain.”
Lt. Chuck Herlth, of the Columbus Fire and EMS, could hardly hold back tears as he described Carter’s impact on the public safety community.
“If God sent an angel to walk among us, he would share loving kindness to everybody he met. That sounds like Deonn,” he said. “He would offer words of encouragement and support in times of trouble. Sounds like Deonn. He would take every opportunity to preach the word of the Lord to anyone who came around him at any time. And again, sounds like Deonn. The only thing Deonn was missing was his wings, and I believe he’s got them now.”
Carter, a friend of local police officers, firefighters and other public servants, died Aug. 20 at Midtown Medical Center, 11 days after he was shot during an armed robbery attempt outside of the Parkside at Britt David Apartments on Armour Road.
A preliminary autopsy determined that the cause of death was deep vein thrombosis due to a gunshot wound, according to Muscogee County Coroner Buddy Bryan.
Just hours before his funeral, Columbus police announced that Tyquez D. Davis, 18, and Travarus Thomas, 20, both had been charged with murder in connection with Carter’s death. Police also issued murder warrants for three other teens, Tauron Stepney, 18; Quamaine Thomas, 18, and Dequoyae Waldon, 22. The three suspects not in police custody are considered armed and dangerous, police said.