5-year-old who saw father’s shooting death: ‘I tried to tell my dad to get up’

Family members say a 5-year-old boy was home when someone broke in and fatally shot his father.

Gastonia police said it happened at the Fern Forest Apartments on Pebblestone Way in the early hours of April 29. So far, no one has been arrested.

PREVIOUS: Man killed in shooting at Gastonia apartment complex

Channel 9’s Gaston County reporter Ken Lemon spoke to the mother of victim De’Mallon White. She said the family, especially his son, is having a tough time with his death.

TaWanda Stephens said whoever did this had to have known her son or visited his home because they went in the back door. There are no numbers or letters to guide you to the right home.

Five-year-old Ky’ere White is one of four siblings, and he loved his father. Stephens, the child’s grandmother, said the 5-year-old was actually watching his dad when the shooting happened almost two weeks ago.

“He said ‘my dad was standing and then my dad fell,’” she told Lemon. “He said ‘I tried to tell my dad to get up.’”

She said Ky’ere ran to the window in time to see the car pulling away from the apartment, and every time he sees one like it, she said he says the same thing.

“He says ‘that’s who killed my daddy,’” Stephens said.

ALSO READ: 15-year-old girl shot during parking lot gathering at Mallard Creek Park

Stephens wants someone to be charged in her son’s killing. In addition to his nearby son, De’Mallon White also had a friend visiting when he was shot.

“Those were very cold-hearted, very heinous individuals,” Stephens said. “Very disturbed, ‘cause nothing can justify you going in on him and his son playing on this game -- you want to kill him in front of his son.”

She said her grandson has trouble sleeping now. That’s a common response to violent trauma, according to therapists at The Lighthouse in Gastonia. They said children are resilient but need help.

“The best thing a child could have after a traumatic event is a supportive caregiver,” said therapist Emma Calvert.

Stephens said her family provides that, as well as therapy, for Ky’ere. But she wants one more thing.

“Come on in. Turn yourself in,” she said to her son’s killer. “I’ll forgive you and I will continue to pray for you, but you will be caught.”

Stephens said her grandson asked for one thing for his dad -- a birthday cake -- even though it wasn’t his father’s birthday, so they got one that said “daddy.” Ky’ere asked that they sing happy birthday so he could send the cake to heaven.

(WATCH BELOW: Man accused of leaving pipe bombs at church he was asked to stop attending)