Children talk about losing father in Macon's first homicide of 2017
MACON, Ga. -- There have been 26 homicides in Bibb County this year, already more than the total for all of 2016.
No one feels the impact of those deaths more than family members.
Bradiesha Shoats' father, Vernon, was shot and killed on Jan. 22 at their Hidden Lakes apartment. He was the city's first homicide victim this year.
"I was ready to just let go," Bradiesha said. "Because it's very depressing, it's very hurtful."
Vernon Shoats served 22 years in the Army. A role model for his children, his son Veonte Shoats joined the Army too.
"Him being military and me being military, he understood where I was coming from," Veonte said. "I'd say, I need to talk to you and he always was there."
In 2014, Vernon came back to Macon to spend more time with his children and grandchildren.
"I miss him a lot," Bradiesha said. "I miss him a lot. To know that he came home to be with us and to even get closer."
There have been 25 other homicides in Macon this year.
A home on Dennis St. was the site of a murder on Halloween, and a funeral reception Wednesday.
The Shoats children know how violence feels. They say it has to stop.
"These days, put the gun down, stop the violence," Veonte said.
"I don't know people, but I'm praying for this young man that's 16 that can't walk to school," Bradeisha said.
Veonte remembers his dad saying he wanted to take a picture with him one day.
"We never got to take that picture, and the picture was both of us in our Class A uniform," Veonte said. "The time we took that picture was when he was in the casket, and I wore my uniform to his funeral."
A father gone too soon. His children, remembering what he meant to them.
"He always used to tell me, 'Son no matter what you do, I'll always love you,' Veonte said. "And that really stuck with me no matter what I've done."
Shoats' wife, Tenita Shoats, was indicted for murder in April. She remains in jail on $110,000 bond. She is not the mother of Bradiesha and Veonte.