PINE BLUFF, Ark. — The mother of Daylon Burnett, the 15-year-old shot at Watson Chapel Junior High, revealed she learned of the shooting during a phone call with her younger son.
“My husband took him to school,” said LaKeisha Lee, Daylon’s mother.
That Monday morning, before the shooting, Daylon had been running late to school. Lee said it was the first day back to class after the two winter storms and they were doing laundry.
“He had to wait for his clothes to dry,” said Lee.
Lee said after Daylon had been dropped off, the phone rang.
“My 13-year-old son called me and said he watched his brother fall to the ground because he had been shot,” said Lee. “His little brother, he said momma, I’m serious, I’m walking through his blood right now.”
Minutes after the shooting
A normal five minute drive to school, Lee said she made it there in only two.
She said getting details from the school turned difficult during the choas.
“She [school employee] said – I’m not who you need to talk too. You need to talk to the Superintendent. I said, ok, can I speak to him? She said hold on and hung up,” said Lee.
Outside in the school’s parking lot, she saw Daylon being rushed out by paramedics to a medical helicopter which would transport him to Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock.
“You would think the school would be my son’s safe haven,” said Lee.
The Watson Chapel School District Superintendent Dr. Jerry Guess said he did talk with Lee after the shooting, before Burnett was airlifted.
Daylon’s life and future
Lee said her son would have taken his talents pro one day, maybe even to the NFL.
“[He was] always singing, dancing. Anything he can do to put a smile on someone’s face,” said Lee.
She said when it came to Daylon, it was always fun and jokes.
“He’s going to make you laugh whether you want to or not,” said Lee.
Lee said Daylon was the oldest and teacher’s adored him.
“My son was very popular, very popular. All the kids loved him. The teachers loved him unconditionally,” she said.
The alleged shooter
Lee said Daylon and the alleged shooter, 15-year-old Thomas Quarles, knew each other.
“They were good friends,” said Lee.
Quarles is facing charges as an adult, however it’s unclear what the charges will be.
Lee said the two had an argument and believes Quarles had been looking for her son earlier that morning.
“He had been asking kids, have you saw Daylon? Y’all haven’t seen Daylon yet,” said Lee.
She said that wants answers, not just from the school district, but from Pine Bluff police.
A false death report
Hours after Monday’s shooting, at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, by Daylon’s side, an official with the Pine Bluff Police Department sent an email to the media reporting her son’s death.
“He [Daylon] was fighting,” said Lee. “I don’t know where they got it from.”
Lee said the report overwhelmed her and her family.
“I got phone calls, text messages, friend requests, message requests, it was overwhelming, I’m sitting at my son’s hospital bed,” she said.
Pine Bluff’s police chief said a lieutenant with his department gave him the misinformation.
The chief said he made an inquiry into how the mistake was made and says he has not ruled out an internal affairs investigation.
Wednesday night, Lee announced Daylon had passed away from his injuries.