SUMTER, S.C. – The parents of a 12-year-old shot to death while trick-or-treating said Monday they hope the man accused of killing him suffers for the rest of his life.
T.J. Darrisaw died Halloween night after police say a convicted felon unleashed a barrage of bullets from inside a home, pumping at least 29 shots through the closed door and front of the house. The boy's father and brother also were wounded.
"The injury to my arm is not as bad as the injury to my heart. I've lost a piece of my heart forever," father Freddie Grinnell Jr. said as he sat in his living room Monday.
Police said the suspect, Quentin Patrick, 22, opened fire with an AK-47 because he thought he was being robbed. The family went to the home because the porch light was on, usually a signal that trick-or-treaters are welcome.
Two of three siblings who went to the door with their father were wearing ghoulish masks. Their parents said the slain boy was determined to get candy first, so he was in front when the shots were fired.
"T.J. saved us that night," Grinnell said. "He took most of the shots."
When the shooting stopped, Grinnell said, the door swung open. Patrick stood there, gun in hand, and said, "Oh, no."
"I was holding my son while he was bleeding, and he was backing out of the yard," Grinnell recalled.
Grinnell and another son who was shot were treated for minor injuries and released from a hospital.
T.J.'s mother, Daphne Grinnell, said T.J. liked to bake cakes, in part because he relished licking the batter, and constantly asked what he could do to help out around the home. The seventh-grader was on his middle school drill team and loved math and board games.
"He was always up for a challenge," his father said, recounting how his son got up early for math tutoring. "I was looking forward to his graduation, to high school, to college. I was looking forward to all of it because I know he would make it."
Patrick, who is charged with murder and three counts of assault and battery with intent to kill, was denied bond Monday. He cried and wiped away a tear as the charges were read. He did not enter a plea and a lawyer has not been assigned to his case yet.
State records show Patrick has been charged with evading police and a string of drug crimes since he turned 18 in 2004. He was sentenced to three years in prison but released in January 2007 under a program for first-time offenders after serving just five months.
Prosecutors have not said whether they will seek the death penalty, but the police chief in Sumter, a city of 40,000 about 45 miles east of Columbia, said she will recommend they do.
T.J.'s parents said they want Patrick to suffer for a lifetime behind bars.
"He should have to live every day in jail and see it and feel it every day for the rest of his life," Daphne Grinnell said. "The death penalty would be a shortcut."
Freddie Grinnell Jr. said he doesn't want an apology.
"'I'm sorry' does not bring my child back," he said. "I want justice."
Meanwhile, he continues to relive the nightmare of the shooting.
"I see the same thing," Grinnell said. "We were just standing on the front porch for a second, and all hell broke loose. It happened so quickly."