'I was hoping this wasn’t real’: Pelham mother on emotional quest to end violence after the loss of her son

Grieving mom speaks out after son's death

PELHAM, GA (WALB) - It’s been two months since a shooting took the lives of Denarrius Johnson and Steven Freeman in Pelham.

WALB News 10 spoke to Freeman’s mother Monday to see how she’s been coping and the change she wants to see after her tragic loss.

Although his death has left a sting in her heart, she hopes her pain and advocacy will stop violence in Southwest Georgia.

“All I could do is pray and ask God for the strength. I was hoping this wasn’t real,” said Teretha Perkins.

Dec. 11 was the day Teretha Perkins’ life changed when her 23-year-old son, Steven Freeman, was killed in a shooting off Cannon Street.

Steven Freeman was shot and killed in Pelham in December of 2018. (Source: WALB)
Steven Freeman was shot and killed in Pelham in December of 2018. (Source: WALB)

“It still doesn’t seem real. I’m still in shock,” Perkins said.

Not only because her oldest son died, but because his 21-year-old friend, Denarrius Johnson, was also killed.

Freeman’s younger brother passes the area where the shooting happened everyday and still relives it.

“That took my life away from me as well. I have to deal with that and then it’s like you’re taking a father away from his children,” said DeShawn Grant, Freeman’s brother.

Freeman was married with four children, completed three years in the military and came back from duty months before Freeman’s last breath.

“I thought that he would go to war and I wouldn’t see him again. Just for him to get out and come back and to be killed on the streets,” said Perkins.

Many thoughts went into her head when Freeman called and said he was shot.

“You know, maybe he survived, but then another call came and said he was dead,” Perkins explained.

With her current pain in her heart, she’s planning a ‘Stop the Violence March’ on March 30, to advocate and spread awareness about violence all over Southwest Georgia.

“I want to turn this negative into a positive. I want to be able to reach back out to the community and help the youth,” said Perkins.

Perkins and her family are starting a non-profit foundation in honor of Freeman, to educate kids on senseless brutality, give out scholarships and send a message.

“When you pick up a gun, think before you pick up a gun. Stop acting out of anger,” said Grant.

Currently, Perkins is working with a number of mothers who lost their children to violence for the big march on March 30.

They’re welcoming marchers and are looking for donations for hamburgers, hot dogs and drinks for a huge cookout afterwards.

The march will start at the Depot in Pelham and end at the park where her son was killed.

Shooting suspect update

Horace ‘Chucky’ Ross turned himself in to the Mitchell County Sheriff’s Office days after the killing of Johnson and Freeman.

Horace 'Chucky' Ross III, double murder suspect in Pelham (Source: Pelham PD)
Horace 'Chucky' Ross III, double murder suspect in Pelham (Source: Pelham PD) (Source: mmj1701)

Right now, Ross is being held at the Mitchell County Jail until this case goes before a grand jury in April.

Investigators said currently he is the only person charged in this shooting, but the investigation is still ongoing.

“He’s awaiting his grand jury. Then after that, as soon as the grand jury is over, they could come back with a True Bill and then you’re sitting there waiting on the trial date which would not be that much longer after,” said Captain Adam Lamb with the Pelham Police Department.

Ross is being charged on two counts of murder, one count of aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.

Police said if it goes to trial, that trial could begin at the end of April or sometime in May.

Pelham police also said a man charged with pulling the trigger on two other men in a December shooting is still behind bars awaiting his grand jury hearing.

Copyright 2019 WALB. All rights reserved.