NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – It’s been six months since four Nashville juveniles were caught up in a crime that ended with two of them dead. The case involved kids ranging from 16 to 12-years-old.
Metro Police responded to a shooting around 3:45 a.m. November 24, 2020. The investigation was launched after two juveniles were killed and two others were wounded inside a stolen pick-up truck that crashed on Interstate-24 near downtown Nashville.
The family of Donquez Abernathy, one of the victims, has been left frustrated searching for answers to stop youth violence. They said the system isn’t working.
“We woke up. He wasn’t in the house, so we were panicking. We were calling his friends. We were trying to figure out where he was. At about 11 o’clock that afternoon, the detectives knocked on the door and told us that he had been murdered,” said Taresha Abernathy, mother. She continued, “It was the worst day of my life.”
Abernathy, 14, was a backseat passenger in the stolen pick-up truck. Metro police said gunshots were fired inside the truck. He and the 12-year-old driver, Abdiwahab Adan, were killed.
The shooter, who police identified as 16-year-old Tristan Williams, was charged with two counts of criminal homicide and one count of attempted criminal homicide. A 14-year-old girl, who was in the front seat of the truck was also injured along with Williams. Both were taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center for their injuries.
“He’ll never be. I’ll never hug him. I’ll never be able to talk to him. He was much more. He had so much to offer,” said his grandmother, Carol Abernathy.
Donquez was part of the Music City Saints Youth Sports program.
“I saw it on the news, and I was like ‘Donquez Abernathy?’ I started making calls and looking on Facebook, and I was like ‘yea, that’s my baby,'” said Cherise Sumlar, the Athletic Director for the Music City Youth Sports.
Sumlar said she first met Donquez at the grocery store. Noticing his size, she approached him about being part of the team.
The organizations motto is ‘impacting the lives of children one play at a time’. Sumlar said Donquez was a force on the field.
“We believe that encouraging and impacting the spirit of the children, mentoring. It goes beyond the football, ” said Jockquise Lewis, President of the Music City Saints. “Football is just an avenue that we use to really influence for the positive and 75% of our children come from single parent homes, so we try to make sure that all of our leaders and mentors are father figures and mother figures as well.”
Donquez was the middle child of five siblings. His mother said he was a “great big brother.”
Those who knew him best, described Donquez as someone who was often quiet and had a lot of promise. Since his death, his family has been hoping a change in juvenile crime will happen.
“My grandson’s murder should let people open their eyes and understand what’s going on with our young people and why they’re committing these crimes,” Carol said.
The family is now trying to spread a message of hope in the community. They believe more needs to be done to support Nashville’s youth and prevent them from getting caught up in violence.
“We have to start within our community, and we have to start something because the problem is only going to get worse if we don’t invest in them,”‘ Carol said.