When talking about her children, Timika Thomas has to pause and collect herself; she never had to speak about them in the past tense until Christmas Eve, when her 18-year-old son was fatally shot.
“I had a total of …” Thomas said, pausing. “… I had a total of six boys and one girl. Now I have five boys and one girl. I never would have thought my baby would be gone.”
Thomas’ third son, Kwavon’tia Thomas, was shot in a parking lot about 4:45 p.m. Monday near East Lake Mead Boulevard and McDaniel Street in North Las Vegas. Witnesses saw Thomas running from someone just before the gunfire rang out, police have said. The suspect was then seen jumping a wall and running away.
Thomas died of multiple gunshot wounds after bystanders and officers tried to help him. The Clark County coroner’s office previously identified him as Kwavontia Thomas.
The suspect in the shooting, 17-year-old Jermariun Hickman, was arrested Thursday night in Laughlin. He was booked into the Clark County Detention Center on one felony count of murder with a deadly weapon, North Las Vegas Police Department spokesman Eric Leavitt said Friday morning.
Kwavon’tia Thomas’ friends and extended family gathered Friday in the parking lot where he was killed. Dozens of candles surrounded poster boards decorated with pictures and the phrase “Long Live K3,” referencing a childhood nickname given to Kwavon’tia Thomas when his uncle couldn’t pronounce his and his two older brothers’ names, which all start with a “K,” his mother said.
“He has so many family members that loved him,” 39-year-old Timika Thomas said. “He was my baby for 10 years.”
She said her son was in his senior year at Valley High School. He was a football player who loved his family and took care of his four younger siblings, ranging from 1 to 8 years old, his mom said.
Timika Thomas and her sister-in-law, 30-year-old Jessica Hooper, said they believe the shooting happened after a fight about a social media post involving a girl.
“His life was cut short for nothing; I know for sure that they had an encounter before, and I think it was all over social media,” Hooper said about the shooter.
Leavitt said Friday that Hickman provided little information when interviewed by detectives, and a motive in the shooting has not been determined. Police determined the two got on the same bus at different stops, then got into an argument, but Leavitt declined to say what prompted the argument.
When Timika Thomas learned that Hickman was arrested in the shooting, she said her happiness about an arrest quickly faded to anger. She thought about how someone “killed my baby” after “chasing” him off the bus.
“I don’t hate you,” she said, addressing the shooter. “I prayed to God you reap what you sow.”
Hooper said her nephew’s biggest concern was “to always make sure his mom was OK.” He recently asked to work with her at Hertz so he could bring a paycheck home to his family, Hooper said.
Now that her nephew is gone, Hooper said she hopes that people pray for his friends, family and Hickman’s family.
“Even though my sister is down there crying for her son, his mother has lost a child to the system once again,” Hooper said, referencing the shooting suspect. “So there’s two lives here that have been damaged. And the crazy part about it, is their life had yet to even begun.”
Jessica Hooper started a GoFundMe page to help her sister-in-law, a stay-at-home mom, pay for funeral expenses, which she said add up to about $12,000.
“His mom doesn’t have $12,000,” she said. “Every day, like any other parent, it’s a struggle to make sure all seven of your children are taken care of.”
The GoFundMe had raised $1,800 as of Friday night.