Slain toddler’s mother tried to get run over

Published 3:05 pm Saturday, May 1, 2010

Amarys Williams heard her 3-year-old son ask for something to drink. Before she could turn around, she heard the pop of a handgun. Williams looked at her son, who crumpled to the floor inside their Church Street house with a quizzical look on his face. He did not cry. He did not scream.

He looked up and said, “Mama?”

Those words uttered by Rosjah Butler Jr. on Tuesday were the last Williams ever heard her toddler speak.

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“I heard the shots through the window, he fell and I saw he was bleeding from his heart,” she said in an interview on Friday. “I picked him up and ran down the street to a friend’s house, and they took us to the hospital.”

She and the child’s father, Rosjah Butler Sr., would wait outside the emergency room as physicians labored to save their son’s life.

In another area of Vaughan Regional Medical Center, the toddler’s grandmother, Cheryl Williams, tended to her mother, a patient. She received a call from her sister, Jackie, who told Cheryl Williams to get down to the emergency room because something was wrong with Amarys.

“She told me it was Amarys because she didn’t want to tell me it was [Rosjah] over the phone,” Cheryl Williams said. “I’m praying the whole way down that my daughter will be OK. When I get off the elevator, I see Amarys in the middle of the floor, praying for her child. When I found out, it was like an out-of-body experience. I can’t believe my baby is fighting for his life. My daughter was hysterical, and I began to pray.”

Later, a physician would call Rosjah’s parents back to a room near where they had taken the child. The 3-year-old had bled to death. The bullet had pierced the aorta, a major artery to the heart.

The toddler became a victim of a drive-by shooting and the third murder victim in Selma at that instant.

They told me my baby was dead, and that’s when I lost my mind, in a nutshell,”

Amarys Williams said.

She ran out into the highway next to the medical center, hoping a truck would hit her. But the only vehicle in the area was that of a family friend, who helped pull her to safety.

“He died, and I wanted to die, too,” Williams said. “I was unsuccessful in that. Unfortunately, there were no trucks. Sometimes I still feel that way, but I have to look after his sister, Alexis. I’ve got to be there for her.”

Just any 3-year-old

Rosjah Butler Jr. was a typical 3-year-old. He loved watching SpongeBob SquarePants. His uncle, Glenn Williams, lifted weights, so Rosjah pretended to lift weights and work out.

The family called him “Hunna” because of a song his grandmother sang to him when he was younger. Nothing else would stop his crying until he heard the words, “My little Hunna, Hunna.”

Said Cheryl Williams, “He was everybody’s baby. No matter who tells you a story about Hunna, it’s going to be a good one. He was such a character.”

On Friday, about 30 family members gathered at the Williamses house on Ala. 14 to remember Hunna and his smile, enthusiasm and vivid imagination.

There were no tears, only happy memories of a toddler who had captivated them with tales of climbing trees, which he never climbed, or lifting those imaginary weights.

A picture of Hunna on the coffee table with those of other relatives seemed to watch over the gathering.

Arrests made in shooting

Across town at Church Street, a makeshift memorial began in the yard outside the house. Dozens of stuffed animals were left. A license plate, “RIP Hunna,” is in the mix of toys and flowers.

And, toward the east, two men wait in the Dallas County Jail without bond on charges of capital murder.

Brandon Lewis, 24, and Aaron Harris, 23, were arrested and charged late last week. Police continue to search for Johnny Duke and Michael Hunter, two other suspects in the drive-by shooting.

Glenn Williams, Hunna’s uncle, was on the front porch when the Dodge Intrepid came rolling down the street.

Police have testified in court that Lewis and Harris told them Williams had confronted Harris over $200 worth of marijuana, which Williams said was bad. That confrontation led to the shooting, police told the judge during last week’s bond hearing.

Williams did not discuss the drugs on Friday. He only would talk about his feelings after his nephew was shot.

“I had all kinds of thoughts,” Williams said. “I wanted to retaliate, but no right is going to come out of me doing another wrong. I had to stay strong. He was my little man. When I would get home from work, he used to open the door for me. He was my alarm clock in the morning.”

‘I don’t see him’

During the family gathering Friday, one of the youngest children, Hunna’s cousin Kishaundra Williams, was told he was in the sky. She looked up.

In a moment she looked at the adults and said, “I don’t see him.”

She called his name. “He doesn’t hear me.

Cheryl Williams spoke gently to her granddaughter, “He hears you, but you can’t hear him.”