Grief etched deeply on Theta Johnson’s features, she stood outside the yellow crime scene tape on a Saturday afternoon to look at the bloodstained white sheet that covered her son’s body.
While sitting in a Mustang on Inglenook Street in Birmingham, Johnson’s son, 32-year-old Rodriquez “Dreke” Powell, and her nephew, 35-year-old Justin Taylor, were shot dead in a hail of bullets.
Taylor was taken to the hospital immediately, but he passed away before he could be treated.
Powell had hardly gotten out of the automobile before he was struck and murdered by another vehicle.
The situation was very familiar to Johnson.
Her third son, Powell, has been taken from her by Birmingham’s violent streets.
It was her second nephew’s murder on the streets, and she felt like she’d lost a son when Taylor died.
She talked about how her faith helped her cope with the tragedies.
There’s no way I can ask, “Again, Lord? “No, because I trust God,” Johnson stated on a Sunday. He gave them to us on loan. We don’t own them. It’s God’s, so they belong to God.
She said, “My trust is in God, yet I love my children and grandkids and my family very much.”
In 2005, an off-duty Birmingham police officer fatally shot Johnson’s first son, Jacoba Powell, who was 23 at the time.
The officer, according to the police report at the time, had witnessed a fight between two guys on a public promenade.
The police officer ordered Jacoba Powell to put down the knife he was holding. Jacoba Powell was shot by police after they say he approached them.
In 2013, Johnson lost his second son, 22-year-old former Tarrant High School football standout Emanuel Powell, after a dispute about money.
When he scored two or more touchdowns in a game his senior year of high school, he was often considered for player of the week by The Birmingham News.
His older sister, Concetta Powell, told AL.com in 2013 that he had been playing football since he was 3 years old. He finished high school with a bang.
“That sentence is really accurate. After they’re gone, you realize how much you didn’t appreciate them while they were alive, she wrote. “Until we meet again, I’ll just be sitting here thinking of good times past and smiling.”
Those thoughts “just came on my heart,” Johnson remarked on Sunday. At this point, I can only attribute it to divine intervention. Is that what they were trying to tell me?
She would lose another son and a nephew within a few short hours of each other.
There was a phone call informing her of their deaths.
They don’t have any quarrel with anyone, and I just couldn’t believe it,” she added.
According to Sgt. Monica Law of the Birmingham Police Department, the victims were riding in a Ford Mustang when someone in a passing automobile started shooting at them.
Around 20 shot casings were numbered by crime scene investigators on the pavement.
According to the law, a 911 call was made reporting multiple shooting victims. When cops arrived, they found both the driver and the passenger of the parked vehicle shot multiple times.
Dreke Powell was an employee at Brother’s Recycling, and he put in some time on Saturday morning.
After that, he and his cousin Taylor proceeded to the shopping center and were shot while hanging out in front of Powell’s girlfriend’s house.
Their aunt is heartbroken about the loss of her nephew and his five kids. Her son has left two children behind, one of whom is an autistic daughter of seven.
Johnson remarked, “Dreke was really amazing with her.” “He really valued his family,” she said.
She added she hopes “their compassion for people, their love, and their smiles” will be remembered.
I hope they put their weapons down. I’ve been begging God, ‘How can we reach this generation so that they’ll put down their guns and love one another?’ she asked. But I’m aware that there’s less love in the world now than there was then.
When asked whether she had any words of wisdom for those parents who have lost or would lose children to gun violence, Johnson replied, “Hold onto God. To the very end, I cling.
Johnson gives thanks to God despite his situation.
What the adversary intended for harm, God will use for good, she declared. The foe believes he has triumphed. The only thing he’s gained is defeat. What you see is what happens.