“Mama, you OK?”
With a curious look on his face, nearly 2-year-old Cam wiped a tear from his mother’s eye as she talked about her child’s slain father. A drive-by shooting early Sunday morning took the life of 24-year-old Cody Alex Hawkins, and left his baby fatherless.
Kadaishia Brown, Cam’s mother, said she’s been trying her best to hold on, but it just didn’t feel real when she heard that Hawkins had been shot. She had spoken to him just hours earlier on the phone.
Just before holding a press conference Monday evening, Brown said her child was asking about his father and wondering where he was.
“I’m just crying right now because I don’t know what to do,” she said, moving her arms to adjust Cam on her hip. “What am I supposed to tell him when he asks me where he’s at?”
Hawkins died at Self Regional Medical Center at 3:41 a.m. after being shot in the area of Pearl Street and Osborne Avenue just before 3 a.m. Sunday, officials said. The next day, his family, friends and loved ones held a press conference at the same spot he was shot in order to pay their respects and honor his life, as well as to ask for justice.
To those out in the community who might have information about the shooting, Brown said she urges them to share what they know.
“Say something, because my baby shouldn’t have to go without his daddy,” she said. “Nobody should.”
Moving forward has been hard, and Brown said it’s been difficult to put her thoughts and emotions into words. She said Hawkins was a good man who cared deeply for his family and built tight bonds with those he loved.
“He made sure that Cam didn’t want or need for nothing,” she said. “He made sure that he told us that he loved us.”
Hawkins was one of four children, and his sister LaBrittany Hawkins said when she got the call that her brother had been shot, all she wanted was to get to him. She recalled getting to the hospital after he was taken there by friends, but she wasn’t allowed in to see him. She didn’t get the chance to speak with him before he died.
“We all were close, he called me every day,” she said.
Her brother adored her cooking, and she said some of her fondest memories are of him coming to eat at her kitchen table.
“He thought I was supposed to cook spaghetti and pork chops every day,” she said with a smile. “I never thought that was a meal — it’s two meals, but he always wanted that.”
She described her brother as a respectable, humble, gracious man who loved spending time with his friends and family. She doesn’t think he was targeted or singled-out by the shooter, but instead thinks he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The lot Hawkins was shot at is less than a block away from his grandmother’s house, just across a community garden that others said he frequented. His family is heartbroken and struggling with the news of his death, his sister said.
“Every time we ride past here, we’re going to miss him standing there, just smiling,” she said. “My mom lost her baby child, so she has a lot going on right now.”
Despite the pain of talking about her loss, LaBrittany said she wanted to let people know what her brother meant to her — she didn’t want the good in his life to go unspoken for.
“He was my everything,” she said. “I’m going to miss Cody. I don’t know if I’m going to be able to do this.”
A Greenwood police captain called out to other officers at about 2:50 a.m. Sunday after he heard about 10 shots fired in the area of Pearl Street, according to a police report. Dispatchers had also received a call from a woman asking for help at Pearl Street and Osborne Avenue — in the background of the call someone was saying “just load him in the car.”
Officers arriving at the area saw several people scrambling to get into cars while yelling, and some people sped away in their vehicles, the report said. Officers put up crime scene tape and found numerous shell casings in the roadway.
The department’s evidence technician came to help process evidence at the scene.
Officers sought the residents of one of the shot houses, but couldn’t find them, the report said. In another report, an officer returned to the area at about 9:30 a.m when a man called about his house having been shot.
The man told police he had been asleep and when he woke up he noticed several bullet holes in the walls. Officers found several holes in the northern wall that went through an interior wall, then out the southern exterior wall, the report said.
Greenwood Police Department Public Information Officer Jonathan Link said Monday evening that officers were still working to set up interviews with a few additional people and that investigators were reviewing the evidence they’ve collected — including video from surveillance cameras in the neighborhood.
Greenwood County Coroner Sonny Cox said Hawkins’ autopsy, which was originally scheduled for Monday morning, was pushed back to Tuesday.
At the press conference Monday evening, Greenville-based anti-gun activist Jack Logan said this was the latest of too many shootings and killings in recent years. He said there has been too much gun violence under Police Chief Gerald Brooks’ administration, and called for Mayor Brandon Smith and city council to remove Brooks from office.
“This could have been me or anyone else,” Logan said. “When people decide to shoot out of a moving car, we can’t allow that to happen.”
Smith declined to comment on personnel matters but said he’s always open to suggestions on how to improve community safety. He said city officials are always working to find ways to prevent community violence.
In response to Logan, Link said his call for Brooks’ removal doesn’t present a solution.
“Our guys fight every day to get guns off the streets and put those guys behind bars when we can,” Link said. “You can hire and fire five police chiefs, and people are still going to shoot each other over disagreements.”
Link said if Logan’s concern was about a lack of frequent patrols in every neighborhood, then he should petition for higher salaries so the department can recruit more officers to patrol the streets.
“The real solution is that our community needs to come together and people need to be willing to work with law enforcement of all kinds,” Link said.
Investigators ask that anyone with information contact police through the department’s Facebook page, by calling 864-942-8407 or through the anonymous online tip form: bit.ly/2Ht5kcf