Mae Smith talks to television reporters about the shooting death of her son earlier this week. With her is her husband, George, and her daughter-in-law, Tamika.
What does it sound like when a heart breaks? Is it the tearing of an organ's fibers or the anguish of a mind in the face of loss? For Mae Smith, whose 32-year-0ld son was shot dead Tuesday in Frayser, it's neither. Resignation is all she has now besides friends, family, and unsettled neighbors.
"I'm angry, but it's not a hostile anger," Smith said today at a community rally. "I just want the judge to know not to send [the killer] out onto the streets. I don't want another mother to feel this way."
Her son, Antoine Farris, himself the father of nine children, was working as a barber at Black's Exclusive Cuts & Design on Frayser Boulevard when someone started chasing him Tuesday. He ran around the block and later was found dead. His mother got the dreaded call from her sister around 2:30 in the afternoon that day. Smith said she suspects a neighborhood kid who's already been to jail for shooting someone -- for doing what she called "stupid stuff."
Her son, whom she says was well liked in the area, hadn't been feuding with anyone in particular. "I don't know of him having any enemies," she said.
In response to the crime, which is still being investigated, several ministers and community groups assembled today at the corner of Mountain Terrace and Frayser Boulevard to voice their concerns. They were positioned a few blocks from Trezevant High School and wanted to greet students as they walked home. Many of those same teens have had to traipse past the nearby crime scene since Antoine's death.
"We wanted to let the children know it's alright to come back out and play -- to make this crime scene a scene of hope," said DeAndre Brown, executive director of Lifeline to Success, a nonprofit organization that helps ex-offenders transition from jail to society.
But once the hoopla died down, once the crowds dispersed and the newspeople moved on to the next tragedy, Mae Smith and her husband, George Farris, were still left to grieve. So was their daughter-in-law, Tamika.
"I don't only want [the perpetrator] to know they took a son, but they took a father too," she said, with tear tracks on her cheeks.
She and Antoine have a 5-year-old daughter. His other children are from previous relationships. But they're all close. And, now, fatherless.