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“He considered himself the little protector”

When a five-year-old boy from Tennessee went to a nearby park to play basketball, he never came home. Her family members were devastated after learning that their little angel had died in a shooting in the park.

A parent’s worst nightmare is to see their child die. Whenever children get sick or injured, their parents do everything to make them feel comfortable. Even the thought of their child struggling between life and death sends a shiver down your spine.

The parents in today’s story had the same feelings. Never in a million years had they imagined seeing their child out of breath. They were shocked to know that their five-year-old boy had left the world so early.

Tanika Jones. | Source: Youtube.com/WKRN News 2


LaVonte’e Williams of Smyrna, Tennessee, was the center of her family’s attention. The well-behaved boy liked to spread smiles and his parents were proud of him. His grandmother never missed an opportunity to tell others how much she loved him.

Like every Sunday, LaVonte’e attended church with his family on August 14, 2022. However, the 5-year-old was set to be baptized at Heaven’s View Baptist Church this time. The Bishop, Belita McMurry-Fite, recalled:

“And when it came time for him to be baptized, he was fine, and then the water was a little cold, and it kind of got to him, so he kind of cried a little bit, but then he went well.”


Everyone who saw LaVonte’e knew he liked to make other people smile. He always offered hugs to people around him and loved interacting with them. He did not know that he was visiting the church for the last time in his life.

The next day, LaVonte’e went to Lee Victory Park, unaware that he would never return home. At around 7 p.m. on August 15, 2022, gunshots and screams were heard near the park’s basketball court.

When paramedics arrived, they saw an injured LaVonte’e lying on the ground. They immediately took him to Stonecrest Medical Center while police inspected the park to investigate the cause of the sudden shooting.


Meanwhile, LaVonte’e’s mother called her grandmother, Tanika Jones, to inform her of the shooting incident. With tears streaming down her cheeks, she asked Jones to come to the hospital, who couldn’t figure out what was going on. Jones said:

“I was like, ‘What do you mean by shooting? Stonecrest? What’s going on? What are we going to do? How are we going to handle this?'”

Soon, doctors revealed that LaVonte’e could not survive. His family was devastated to know that the boy who smiled the night before had left them alone. However, they still didn’t know who shot their little bundle of joy.

Tanika Jones.  |  Source: Youtube.com/WKRN News 2

Tanika Jones. | Source: Youtube.com/WKRN News 2


After inspecting the scene of the incident and reviewing the evidence, police concluded that LaVonte’e found a gun in his father’s backpack and guessed his death was an accident. Meanwhile, Jones asked people not to make assumptions. She says:

“Being a woman of faith, I just started praying to myself that whatever God decides, I was going to trust him.”

Jim Garbee, Smyrna’s spokesman, said the investigation is still ongoing. He also expressed his condolences to the family for their irreplaceable loss.


Miracle Williams, LaVonte’e’s mother, was shocked to learn that her son was no more. While asking people to pray for her family, she said she felt relieved that her son was baptized a day before he died. She says:

“Every day for the rest of my life will be incomplete. I will never be well.”

As people kept asking her how they could help her, she created a GoFundMe page to help cover LaVonte’e’s funeral costs. She also asked people to give her family space.

Memorial for LaVonte'e outside the basketball court.  |  Source: Youtube.com/WKRN News 2

Memorial for LaVonte’e outside the basketball court. | Source: Youtube.com/WKRN News 2


“He was very nice; he loved people, loved his family. He thought of himself as the little protector,” Jones revealed. She also said her grandson wanted to be a footballer or a firefighter, but fate had other plans for him. Mayor Mary Esther Reed said:

“The death of a child is inconceivable and our hearts are broken by this tragedy. The community of Smyrna sends prayers of comfort and healing to all involved.”

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Williams and their friends and family as they deal with the painful tragedy that claimed LaVonte’e’s life.

Click here to read another story about a 9-year-old boy who lost his parents and little sister in a campground shooting.


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