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Grandmother shares family's grief after Nashville teen killed during home invasion

Grandmother shares family's grief after Nashville teen killed during home invasion (Fox 17 News)

A Nashville high school student was shot and killed when his home was broken into early Wednesday morning, and police and family members believe the gunmen got the wrong house.

His grandmother said 17-year-old Ja'Donte Thompson died protecting his mother at the home. According to Metro Nashville Police, the suspects kicked in the back door and went upstairs.

One suspect had his face covered and the other did not. One of the suspects, armed with a handgun, fired several shots, hitting Thompson in the chest after he struggled with the gunmen trying to protect his family. The gunman also pistol whipped the step-dad.

"He didn't deserve this," Shirley Whitlow said. "No he did not...he did not."

Whitlow fought back tears just hours after her grandson's death to say the person that pulled the trigger is in her prayers.

"Even though it hurt, they took a loved one from us, but we still pray for that person," Whitlow said. "Pray for them."

According to witnesses, a family of four, including a grandfather, step-dad, mom and 17-year-old boy, were inside the home and asleep when two men in their 30s broke in yelling "where is it at."

Police believe the suspects mistook the home for a drug house. Detectives found no evidence of drugs, money or weapons inside. What they did find is evidence Thompson struggled with the gunman.

"When he heard what was going on, he came and protected his mother," Whitlow said. "He died protecting his mother."

Whitlow said while she is heartbroken over his death, she's not surprised by his bravery.

"It didn't start last night," Whitlow said. "He's been looking out and protecting his mother and his sister years ago."

His family said Thompson watched his little sister while his mother worked. He planned to sign up for the Hillsboro High School baseball team in the spring and just took a job at Top Golf to help buy Christmas presents for friends and family.

A typical teenager like the ones you see in your neighborhoods, your churches, and your school and the kind of child that would make any grandmother proud.

"These is tears of joy," Whitlow said. "Tears of joy because he was a well-respectable child."

As friends and family hold each other, Whitlow said she holds on to her faith

"I'm going to miss him but one of these old days...one of these old days, we're all going to be together and every day is going to be sweet Sunday," Whitlow said.

The same faith that fills her heart for forgiveness for the gunman helps her believe Thompson is in a better place.

"God came and got my baby, and I have no doubt...no doubt, whatsoever where my baby at," Whitlow said.

Metro Nashville Police are looking for the men who broke into the home. They said one of the men wore a red beanie, a red jacket and appeared intoxicated. Anyone with information is asked to call Metro Police at 615-742-7463.

Thompson was a student at Hillsboro High. Grief counselors will be on hand Wednesday to help students cope with the tragic loss.

MNPS is saddened to learn about the tragic death of a 17-year-old Hillsboro High School student. He enrolled at Hillsboro this fall and previously attended East Nashville Magnet School. And though he wasn’t at the school long, he had a positive impact on his classmates, teachers and staff. He planned to join Hillsboro’s DECA chapter and baseball team. Teachers said he had model behavior and was a good example of an aspiring leader. This is a tragic case of senseless violence that has saddened all of us here at Metro Nashville Public Schools, and particularly the staff and students at Hillsboro and East High Schools. The district is providing grief counselors to support students and faculty. Our deepest sympathy is extended to the family during their time of grief. - Metro Nashville Public Schools

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