Her words cracked and fell apart when she described that night.
“By the time I went to room 12, my long, six-three, good looking, bald-headed baby, first born was lying there on that hospital bed,” Elizabeth Bowens said of rushing into Grand Strand Regional Medical Center.
“All the shaking I did couldn’t put the life back in him because they told me that he was gone when he fell.”
One bullet severed an artery near his neck. One bullet ended Tony Hemingway’s life. One bullet from one gun killed the 32-year-old.
Not long before the shooting, Bowens was at choir practice when her son stopped by the church on the way to the former Red Room nightclub white-out party. He was wearing all white clothes and shoes as he sat his 250-pound frame on her lap. He left her with the memory of their last conversation.
“I said, ‘Baby, you’ve outgrown your mother’s lap,’” she said during a candlelight vigil at the Burgess Community Center on Monday. “He hugged me and said, ‘Momma, I’ll never outgrow your lap.’”
Later that night, bullets were sprayed around the club and one killed Hemingway on April 9, 2005.
Since then, she said, there have been prayers, tears and the formation of South Carolina Mothers Against Violence. The group is there to support others in mourning and to be a voice against gun violence with such action as pitching legislation that will make bail more difficult for those charged with gun violence.
Bowens, weeping in a tissue, called about 20 names who had been the children of about 20 mothers.
Several of the mothers stood beside Bowens while candles were lit and prayers prayed.
“There was a gun,” Bowens said of her nephew Charles Hemingway Jr.
The 21-year-old had been at a friend’s home near Conway after Thanksgiving 2019.
“You don’t have to be in the wrong place to lose your life,” she said as the man’s mother Gwendolyn Moody wiped tears from her cheeks.
Loretta Smalls and Barbara Davis German nodded with each prayer.
Smalls’ son Tyrice Smalls was shot four times on Easter weekend in 2016. He was at a home off Gwen Drive near Socastee Boulevard. He was 36 years old.
“Next month will make five years and I still don’t know nothing,” Smalls said of no one charged in the shooting. “I need your prayers. Please, if someone knows something, come forward.”
German’s daughter Brittany Shane Davis was 33 when she died in November 2019. She was more than a standout at Socastee High School, Pfeiffer University and South Carolina State University. She was more than a member of the Air Force National Guard.
She was German’s daughter.
“It hurts,” she said on Monday. “Yes it does.”