A call to 911 from a dying Richmond 15-year-old may have helped save the life of his mother after she was shot five times by her ex-husband.
Keisha Valentine is from Richmond but says she moved to North Carolina to escape an abusive husband. She was living there when she was shot and her son was killed.
"There's still a bullet in my backside that comes through my ribs to the front," said Valentine, who says there's also a second bullet still inside her.
One of the bullets hit her right on a tattoo that reads, "Have faith and hope and be strong." Those are words, she says, she lives by.
She's bound to a wheelchair because of it -- but she's alive because of her son, Earl.
Valentine said of her son "he would give his all like my dad would give his all. And him being 15, yes he took on a heavy load of responsibility." It was a responsibility he carried nobly.
After Keisha Valentine's marriage broke up and her father passed, Earl Valentine III became the man of the house.
Earl recorded a video the day they saw his older sister, Debonet, off to college. In the video Earl tells the camera, "hopefully you keep this in memory for when you go to college, you'll be able to watch this and remember your brother when you go to college."
"When we look back at that video today, I would have no idea that my son would've been the one that was leaving us and she was the one going to college. When we look at that, we just cry," Valentine said.
Because two weeks later, the man of the house was shot and killed while protecting Keisha. They were both asleep when the front door was kicked
down at about 1:30 a.m.
Valentine recounts the horror saying she "walked into my kitchen area, gun to my chest and it just exploded. I felt a burn but not a pain, I didn't really hear it -- I just felt something and it kinda like winded me. I start running. As I ran, the gun went 'boom, boom, boom, boom, boom’ I collapsed in my room, I shut the door behind me and I fell and hit the ground. I said, 'I'm gonna die on this floor.'"
Keisha says she felt a trickling come from her chest -- blood pouring out of her -- but her only thought was "where is Earl at? I start to wonder, where is Earl? And that's when I started calling my son's name, 'Earl?' What's the next thing I heard? I heard a little voice."
Earl was on the phone with 9-1-1.
"I heard that little boy's voice, 'me and my momma been shot, my daddy did it.' My heart just WRENCHED. He knew his daddy did this to us?!"
Earl Valentine Jr. went there that night to kill Keisha, instead, he killed his son.
But while the man of the house was dying on the floor, he was using his last breaths to save his mother.
"And he gave his address, that's the last thing I heard my baby say on that phone call."
After Earl Valentine Jr. left the shooting, he confessed in a chilling Facebook live video. In it, he said, "I just killed my mother (bleep) wife … I love my wife, but she deserved what she had coming."
Or so he thought, while Valentine was recording that video -- police arrived at the blood-soaked home.
"I had my back against the door and I put my hands out and said, 'I'm in here, I'm in here, but check on my son I think he's been shot," Keisha said.
When the officer did, the 15-year-old man sent the officer to his mother's room instead.
Keisha heard her son say, "'Don't worry about me, save my momma, don't worry about me.'"
Earl died that morning, but the call he made got Keisha to the hospital in time to save her life. The next day U.S. Marshals tracked Valentine to a motel in Columbia, South Carolina where they found him dead inside. He shot himself.
"Why me? Why am I still alive? Why me? Why did my son have to die for something he had nothing to do with, he was an innocent kid," Keisha said.
Earl's ashes rest on the family mantel now. Above the ashes, Earl's picture -- still looking down on his mother. Forever, the man of the house.
"I ask myself, every day when I get up, 'how are you doing this, Keisha? What's giving you the strength to do this?' My answer: I do this for my son, Earl. Earl saved my life. So I have to keep pushing myself on otherwise my son would've saved my life for nothing."
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