Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Friends Recall Boy as Active, Talented; Pastor Decries Culture That Couldn't Save 12-Year-Old Who Was Shot during Break-In

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Friends Recall Boy as Active, Talented; Pastor Decries Culture That Couldn't Save 12-Year-Old Who Was Shot during Break-In

Article excerpt

Byline: TERRY DICKSON

BRUNSWICK - Deveron Smith, 12, who was shot to death May 30, was remembered at his funeral Saturday as charismatic, funny and talented.

More than 200 mourners crowded into Greater Dimensions Christian Fellowship, a storefront church a short distance from the quiet neighborhood where he was killed by a single shotgun blast from a man who had ordered Deveron to leave his home, police said.

The family and other mourners filed into the church at 11 a.m. as those already inside sang a spiritual. They filed past an open, blue-gray casket where the boy lay in a dark blue suit.

His mother, Tamara Ratliff, and stepfather, Torrance Ratliff, sat in front of the casket where a woman constantly fanned Tamara Ratliff in the stuffy, packed church.

His grandmother, Winnie Bell Washington, told the mourners she last saw Deveron Sunday morning when he told her he had been promoted to sixth grade. She told them she became worried when he didn't come home Sunday night and then was told, "he's gone."

"He was always going. He was always doing something,'' she said. "He used to come into my house Sunday night saying, 'Grandmama, I'm hungry,'" she said, smiling.

An evangelist, Washington exhorted the crowd to learn from her grandson's death.

"When [God] does something like this, we ought to learn something,'' she said.

The Rev. Kenneth Adkins, pastor of newly formed Greater Dimensions, noted that a lot of people were busy blaming the family, the shooter, the police and others.

Although the investigation remains incomplete, police have said it is unlikely the tenant, who was home with his wife, would be charged with killing an intruder.

Adkins indicted churches for not doing their jobs and said he wishes he had done more, although he already has a program that serves about 150 youths.

"There are 156 African-American churches in this region of Brunswick,'' Adkins said. "There are enough preachers and churches that tragedies like this shouldn't happen. …

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