‘We’re slaughtering each other’: Family of teen killed at city pool has strong message for parents

ATLANTA — Atlanta police are searching for a person who shot and killed a teenager at a local swimming pool over the weekend.

Channel 2′s Tyisha Fernandes was at the Anderson Park pool in northwest Atlanta, where she talked to 17-year-old Jakari Dillard’s family.

Police said Jakari was killed after an argument broke out Saturday just as the pool was about to close. Witnesses said they didn’t know the shooter, but he looked like a teenager as well.

Jakari’s aunt, Chrissandra Thomas, said Dillard was not part of the argument. Thomas said she was checking on her younger nieces and nephews in the baby pool when she overheard the shooter “talking crazy” to Dillard.

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“We just hear a gunshot,” Thomas said. “Me and my nephew just thought they shot into the air and we see him laying right there. But again, he had nothing to do with it.”

People at the pool tried to do CPR, but Jakari didn’t make it.

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Jakari’s three younger brothers and sister are traumatized by the shooting. They’re still asking their mother where their brother is.

“This is something they’re going to have to live with the rest of their lives,” his mother, Courtney Dillard, said.

“He watched out for all of his younger siblings. You would think he was the dad,” Thomas said.

Dillard was a rising senior at Life Christian Academy. His mother said the fact that he could be so active and love life was a miracle because he was born with a heart problem and had nine surgeries in his lifetime.

Courtney Dillard said she’s a protective mom who doesn’t let her kids do too much without her there because of all the violence in metro Atlanta these days. She did let Jakari go to the pool with his family, a decision she regrets.

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“Only thing he did,” Dillard said. “He worked and went to school. Played the game. I never let him out the door because of what’s going on now. I’m scared. This is what I am scared of.”

Dillard said two days ago, she and Jakari were talking about prom. Now, she’s planning a funeral.

Jakari’s family had a message for the community. They said that people should stop blaming the mayor and police for all the violence in Atlanta. They said parents need to teach their children a better way to deal with issues than use guns.

“We do have to say to the kids and the mothers out there. We have to come together, you know?” Thomas said. “This can’t keep happening. We killing each other. Like we don’t even have to worry about police. It’s our own slaughtering each other.”

Dillard agrees that the only way senseless gun violence is going to end is if parents are more involved with their children.

“These parents have to buckle down on their kids,” Dillard said. “You have too. Your kids are going to show you small signs. You can’t just neglect that and let it go.”

The family is glad the city closed down the pools. They want to see metal detectors installed and people’s bags checked at the door.