Family, coach of teen killed in Atlantic Station shooting say he was ‘good kid,’ Olympic hopeful

ATLANTA — The family of a 15-year-old boy who died after a shooting near Atlantic Station over the weekend defended him Thursday after police said he was targeted.

Channel 2 Action News first told you about the shooting on WSB Tonight on Saturday night.

Cameron Jackson, 15, was one of six young people shot that night after a fight near Atlantic Station. Jackson spent several days in the hospital before dying from this injuries on Wednesday. Zyion Charles, 12, died at the scene that night.

Police said they are still investigating if the shooting was gang related, but surveillance video appears to show the same group of teens involved in the fight flashing gang symbols on a MARTA station after the shooting. Police said two of the older members of the group are the suspected shooters.

On Thursday, Jackson’s family held a news conference and said Cameron is not the person police have portrayed him as. His family members and coach painted a portrait of a good kid who was a an Olympic boxing hopeful.

His mother, Tiffany Smith, said he had been boxing since he was nine years old.


“Cameron boxed six days a week, that’s how driven he was with boxing,” Smith said.

His coach, who was emotional as he spoke, said he’d never seen any evidence Cameron was involved with gang activity.

“We called him Little Pooch,” his boxing coach, Zahir Raheem said. “He was very disciplined. He had a very hard drive, man. He was very gentle ... We talked about his dreams, his goals, his passion. He loved animals. He loved to cook. He loved projects.”

Raheem said Jackson had dreams of competing in the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

“I seen a lot of me in him, fighting,” Raheem said. “It’s like they took my dream.”

Smith and Raheem both said the problem of gun violence among young people needs to stop, because right now, it could affect anyone.

“I’m from Atlanta. I’ve been here all my life. And you see all this, the violence on TV, but you never think one day you’ll be waking up and it will be your child,” Smith said.

Charles’ mother said she had pleaded with police for months to help her reign in her son, who was going down a bad path. But Smith said her son seemed to be on the straight-and-narrow.

“We had all the resources but the one thing we were unable to deal with was the community, the environment, the city,” Smith said.

Raheem said everyone has to pitch in to curb gun violence.

“As a collective, we need to find a solution to unnecessary gun violence,” he said. “Because these kids don’t get these guns themselves.”

On Wednesday, police released surveillance video of the group of young people they believe were involved in the shooting. Police are asking for the public’s help to identify two of them, who they believe are the shooters. Police are offering a $10,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest.

Smith released a full statement to Channel 2 Action News on Friday morning.

“My family and I are devastated and heartbroken. We are living a nightmare. And, I do not wish this upon anyone.

My 15 year old son, Cameron, had a bright future. He was headed for a professional boxing career. A charismatic young man, he was lovable and loved his family deeply. He also loved animals, science and dirt bikes.

My family and I are dealing with our personal loss. Me being here is an opportunity to honor him and to be with and speak directly to our community and our city.

This is a state of emergency. I’m talking about gun violence and systemic issues. I blame no one. Everyone is a victim and is responsible here.

I am committed to creating a world—a community, a city where children know that they matter, are loved and supported and to create a space to be connected to a community of resources that can support them in whatever they are dealing with. I am committed to mothers, fathers and families in not having to deal with what they are dealing with by themselves. I am committed to being in partnership with the city and others who are taking [a] bold stand on these issues. I know Cameron would want this too.

I see this as a time to take action. I am putting together a plan to honor my son and to take the kind of action that will make a real difference. While I am not ready to reveal this now, I will be following up at another time. I am requesting your support, your help and your resources to build this with me, and for you to take action to make the difference that I know WE are out to make.

There’s work to do. And, I am calling upon all city/state stakeholders - parents, business owners, elected officials, teachers and others who share this vision - to shift the narrative here from loss and blame to empowering communities where everyone thrives and no one and nothing is left out.

What I ask for is action and your continued support and awareness…beyond today.

To the family of Zyion Charles, we offer our condolences.

My family and I thank Mayor Dickens, the Atlanta Police Department, and Grady Hospital for their support and care, along with the outpouring of support from the community.

Thank you for respecting our privacy at this time.”

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