Two mothers healing after tragedy

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 23, 2010

NATCHEZ — Many people have stopped by Sharon Holmes’ house to offer condolences since the Sunday death of her 19-year-old son, Deltaurus Holmes, but one visitor is closer to Holmes’ pain than others.

Tina Bruce was among those who stopped by Holmes’ Lower Woodville Road house Wednesday morning; it was her 16-year-old son who mistakenly delivered the fatal shot to Sharon’s son.

The boys, good friends, were hunting in the woods near the Holmes’ house early Sunday morning.

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Bruce’s son apparently instructed Holmes and another 13-year-old with them to stay in a certain spot and wait for the deer to come to them.

But Holmes and the 13-year-old apparently moved from where the 16-year-old told them to stand, Adams County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Capt. Robert Brown said.

Holmes was wearing an open tan jacket with a white undershirt, and the 13-year-old with him was wearing an opened gray jacket with a white undershirt.

Brown said the shooter, who had his 13-year-old brother with him, saw white, probably from the victim’s T-shirt, which made him think he saw a deer.

To confirm what he saw was not his friends, the 16-year-old apparently called Holmes’ cell phone at 6:20 a.m., which was not answered, and then he shouted Holmes’ name to no avail.

“He whooped and called “Del,” and (Holmes) didn’t answer,” Brown said.

Brown said the boy then fired the shot.

“(The shooter apparently) thought Del was still at the point where he left him,” Brown said.

The single buckshot from a 12-gauge shotgun struck Holmes three times in the head, stomach and groin, and pellets from the same bullet grazed the13-year-old victim’s arm and stomach.

The 13-year-old victim was treated by the hospital and released and is now stable, Brown said.

Holmes was pronounced dead at approximately 8:30 a.m. at Natchez Community Hospital.

The only word both mothers could search for to talk about the incident was “tragedy.”

“There’s no blame,” Sharon said.

Bruce came over Wednesday to help Holmes write Del’s obituary, and said the Holmes family has welcomed her family’s sympathy with open arms.

Neither mother knew the boys had gone out hunting on the day of the accident.

The shotgun the shooter used apparently belonged to his grandparents, Brown said.

Budding friendship, bright future

Before the accident, Bruce’s son was a regular visitor for family meals at the Holmes house.

The night before the accident, Sharon cooked hamburgers for the boys, who had been friends since the Holmes family moved to Natchez from Vicksburg last January.

Sharon said Del went to vacation Bible school this past summer with his new friend, who helped introduce Del to the Zion Hill church, where Del eventually joined and was baptized in June.

Sharon said she knew her son was well-liked and had many friends, but she has been surprised by the number of people that have stopped by her house this week to offer the family condolences or share memories about Del.

A senior at Natchez High School, Del loved sports and played on the NHS football team. He also wanted to get into tennis, Sharon said.

Del even taught himself to swim at age 15 in the neighborhood pool where he grew up, his mother said.

But his best trait wasn’t his athleticism, it was his demeanor, she said.

“He would always tell me, ‘Mama, give me a hug,’ even when I was mad or awkward with him,” she said.

Del’s work hat — a tan Shoney’s baseball cap — still hangs from a curtain rod in the Holmes’ living room.

Sharon said her son enjoyed his job washing dishes at Shoney’s.

“He loved going to work,” she said.

After graduation, Del wanted to be either a fireman or a carpenter, Sharon said.

“He wanted to be a firefighter,” Del’s little brother, Jacorui, 9, interjected, confident he knew his brothers top pick.

Sharon said Del was a good big brother to Jacorui and Jamarcus, 3, and he would often watch over them when she had to work night shifts.

She still remembers how Del wrote an essay about her in 10th grade, and how he earned a 100 percent grade on it.

She said she felt humbled by the gesture.

“You’re a good Mom, and you’re a hard working Mom,” Sharon said Del told her.

It’s a tragedy for two families, the mothers agreed.

Bruce said her son has been withdrawn and is not saying much about the accident since it happened.

He saw a counselor at the Southwest Mississippi Mental health facility Tuesday about the incident, Bruce said.

She said she hopes the counseling and the understanding of the Holmes family can help him get through this hard time.

Sharon said she’s working hard to keep emotions in check, but when she suddenly began to cry Wednesday, a visitor from church was there to catch her tears on her shoulder.