It was a warm July Sunday evening and Brittany Weathers was resting after spending hours in the kitchen cooking. Her 15-year-old son, Ky’Rion, missed one of his favorite meals: macaroni and cheese and freshly baked rolls. That was unusual. Moments later, she learned why.
Weathers’ youngest son, Rontavious, 13, burst in after receiving a Snapchat message from a friend. Ky’Rion had been shot.
Weathers rushed to the scene of the shooting then to Ocala Regional Medical Center hoping to see her son. Instead, detectives led her to a quiet room with an empty hospital bed. It was the most private place to break the news.
“I don’t know how to tell you, but he didn’t make it,” Weathers remembers the detective telling her.
The next time Weathers saw her oldest child, he was laid out on a hospital bed – lifeless.
“My baby was just laid out and he just looked like he was at peace,” Weathers said. “He looked like he didn’t suffer or nothing. Just with a little bullet and everything.”
That was July 26. Nearly nine months later, Weathers still struggles to make sense of her son’s death. Investigators have yet to make a final ruling on his death, keeping Weathers in limbo.
The weekend he died was typical, Weathers said.
Ky’Rion spent the weekend with friends. He left on Friday and stayed at a home in Silver Springs Shores. He called to check in on Saturday and let his mom know who he was with.
“He knows how I felt about him hanging with certain people,” Weathers said. “I would see different things going on with young boys on Facebook with the guns and stuff like that, and I would show them these events because I didn’t want that to happen to them. And by me being a single mom trying to raise them, I could only do what I could do.”
Ky’Rion’s father wasn’t around much. And that took a toll on the young man.
Occasionally, Ky’Rion would make comments about how his younger brother had a father figure but he didn’t. Weathers noticed changes in Ky’Rion and she believes some of those feelings might have been at the root of those changes.
Ky’Rion’s social media presence showed a growing interest in firearms. Photos of the former Trinity Catholic football player and his friends toting firearms are easily found on Instagram.
Weathers said her son and some of his friends were drawn to gang culture.
She remembers seeing some friends flash gang signs during his funeral.
Sheriff’s officials said the shooting is not tied to any type of gang activity.
Still, the interest in guns caught up to him last April when Ocala Police pulled over the car carrying him and four others. Police found two stolen handguns, according to reports.
“And when he went to juvenile (detention), he cried like a baby,” Weathers said. “Because he knows we wasn’t living that life.”
Weathers called the courthouse to confirm Ky’Rion’s court appearance on June 16 and learned the charges had been dropped. The State Attorney’s Office didn’t have enough evidence to prosecute.
But forty days later, a gunshot to the abdomen claimed his life. The shooting happened at a home in Summerfield. The details are sketchy.
Detectives with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office are still investigating what happened the day Ky’Rion died. The State Attorney’s Office is also examining the case. To date, no charges have been filed.
Weathers doesn’t know what happened to her son that day. She’s heard numerous stories, some of them conflicting. One version is that Ky’Rion shot himself during a game of Russian Roulette. Another is that someone else shot him.
She doesn’t know what to believe.
“It was multiple stories,” Weathers said. “And I feel like… I feel like more people know than what they saying.”
Ky’Rion’s death was the first of three shootings involving Marion County high school football players.
Vanguard student Chris “Chevy” Chevelon was fatally shot at Sutton Place Apartments on Dec. 6. He was also 15 years old.
Police are not releasing much about Chevelon’s death as they continue to investigate the shooting.
On January 31, 18-year-old Trinity Catholic football player Omarea James was shot while he and his brother, Jahkyri, were leaving a gas station near Northwest 113th Circle in Ocala.
According to reports from the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, Omarea was in the passenger seat when someone opened fire. A bullet hit James in the back and lodged in his spine. He survived, but his long-term prognosis is unknown.
Detectives obtained video footage from the BP gas station and saw that a silver BMW sedan with at least four passengers had followed the brothers out of the parking lot shortly before the shooting happened.
The front passenger of the BMW was later identified by officers as Nathaniel Woodruff, 20, of Ocala.
Woodruff turned himself in on Feb. 5 after a county-wide search. Woodruff is charged with discharging a firearm in public from a vehicle and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. He is also charged with two counts of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer and shooting at, within or into a vehicle after shooting at Marion County officers during a pursuit on Feb. 2.
While Omarea survived the shooting, a bullet became lodged in his spine and his long-term prognosis is unknown.
“It’s ridiculous,” Weathers said of the recent uptick in shootings involving teenagers. “I want justice served. Because I want them to understand that these guns ain’t nothing to play with. And people, kids and life ain’t nothing to play with as well.”
While investigations continue to chug along, so does Weathers. She has no choice.
She also has to comfort Ky’Rion’s brother and keep his memory alive for the sister he never met.
Weathers was pregnant with a girl, Briyani, when Ky’Rion died. He picked the little girl’s name.
She still spends time in the kitchen cooking for her family. But knowing that Ky’Rion will never return for his favorite meal is tough.
“It’s been, for me, it’s been unexpected,” Weathers said. “It’s just been… looking for my child always to come home. I mean, I know he’s gone. And I know he’s not here and its reality. And I’m aware that he’s not here. But I’m used to my child being gone for a couple days and then he will come back home.”