ELKHART — Braxton Barhams’s parents still have many questions they’d like to see answered.
It has been three weeks since their son was killed in a drive-by shooting, and a suspect has been arrested and charged with murder in the case, but coping with the loss hasn’t gotten easier, they said.
“You have mixed feelings from day to day,” said Kenneth Barhams, Braxton’s father. “You go to his bedroom and you remember him coming in from playing with his friends.”
Braxton, 16, was shot June 22 near the intersection of Benham and Garfield avenues. Police and an ambulance were called at about 6:45 p.m. to the scene of the shooting. They took the teen to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Braxton Barhams was on his way back home from a open house when the shooting happened.
Braxton’s mother, Jeanette Barhams Dancler, said she was at her home on Garfield Avenue, not even a block away from the intersection, when her niece came in to say she thought she heard gunshots. Barhams Dancler dismissed the thought, saying the sound probably came from fireworks. A few minutes later, a young man ran to the house saying Braxton had been shot.
Barhams Dancler ran across the street where her son was laying. He was not conscious by the time she reached him.
Kenneth Barhams, Braxton’s dad, was at the Elkhart Jazz Festival eating when he got a call from his son, Julius.
“I dropped everything and ran there.”
By the time he got to the corner of Benham and Garfield avenues, the scene had been taped off by police. The ambulance was still at the scene, with Braxton inside. Shortly afterward, it took off for the hospital.
“That night I was shocked. In denial,” said Barhams Dancler.
A few hours after the shooting, 16-year-old Jesus Macedo-Perez was arrested. He has been formally charged with murder and is facing a criminal gang enhancement.
Braxton’s parents knew their son and Macedo-Perez knew each other, but neither of them know what would have motivated the teen to kill their son.
Barhams Dancler said she knew her son had gotten in a fight with Macedo-Perez about a year ago. But Braxton never mentioned him afterward.
“I would like to know why he did it. What could have been so bad that he did it. At that age especially,” Barhams Dancler said.
Both parents attended Macedo-Perez’s initial hearing, and they said they expect to go to all his other hearings.
“You can’t describe it. There are so many emotions,” said Kenneth about his reaction to the hearing. “You ask yourself why, you want to ask him ‘what made you do that?’”
The tragic evening brought family, neighbors and friends together, who held two vigils, set up a small memorial for Braxton at the scene of the shooting, and started fundraisers to help the family within days of the incident.
Among the people Barhams Dancler met during the vigils was Kimi Jackson, whose daughter, Kristyana, was killed Aug. 17, 2012, during a home invasion.
“She gave me her number. I’ve been calling her since. I needed somebody to talk to,” Barhams Dancler said.
Jackson’s sister, Judi Ballard, will hold a car wash to raise money for Braxton’s family Saturday, July 13, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Agape Missionary Baptist Church, 248 W. Wolf Ave.
Braxton’s parents said they are overwhelmed by the support and the number of friends and family members who have been in touch with them since their son died.
“It’s unbelievable how everybody reached out to us,” Kenneth said. “It has really helped and we want to thank everyone for being supportive.”
IF YOU GO
What: Car wash to raise money for Braxton Barhams’s family
Where: Agape Missionary Baptist Church, 248 W. Wolf Ave.
When: Saturday, June 13, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.