Family remembers 5-year-old who died after playing with father’s gun

A 5-year-old boy is dead after he was shot at Lee Victory Recreation Park in Smyrna Monday night.
Published: Aug. 16, 2022 at 6:07 PM CDT
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MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WSMV) - A Murfreesboro family is trying to come to terms with the fact their 5-year-old son will never return home.

LaVonte’e Roy Anthony Williams was playing basketball at a park in Smyrna Monday night when he was shot and killed, police said. The 5-year-old’s family and police said the shooting was the result of the child accidentally shooting himself.

The gun belonged to LaVonte’e’s father, according to police. They said the boy retrieved the gun from inside his father’s backpack.

Tanika Jones, LaVonte’e’s grandmother, said Monday was LaVonte’e’s first full day of kindergarten. He was baptized Sunday.

He had years of life ahead of him, but it all ended too soon at Lee Victory Park on Monday night.

“He was a boy, but he was a great kid,” Jones said.

Tuesday, people who didn’t know LaVonte’e started a memorial next to the park’s basketball courts.

“He’s a superhero kid,” Jones said. “He was kind of like the superhero to our family because he wanted to be the little protector.”

LaVonte’e was Jones’ grandson with the infectious smile and over-the-top personality.

“I know we don’t understand it; we’ll never understand it,” Jones said. “But, God has a purpose and a plan, and he was here for a reason.”

Jones said LaVonte’e and his dad were playing basketball with a group at Lee Victory Park Monday night. She said his dad turned his back for a second.

“Children play, children do things, and unfortunately children touch things,” Jones said.

In an instant, she said, LaVonte’e was accidentally shot and killed.

“I’m a gun owner, but I practice safety and I keep it locked away,” Jones said. “It is clearly for protection. It is not to play with. They are not to play with.”

Now, she’s trying to remember the five short years she had with her grandson.

“If you were nice to him, you were his friend,” she said. “That was just who LJ was.”

Jones asks the community, if anything, say a prayer.

“God, do we need it,” she said. “We are all church-going, God loving people, but this one is hard.”

Jones says her daughter, LaVonte’e’s mother, just started a new job a month ago and insurance hasn’t kicked in yet. They are asking people donate to the funeral expenses on a GoFundMe.

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