Teen charged as adult in toddler shooting death

Hiram Lawrence Jr. was in his father's arms when gunfire broke out last November.

July 20, 2012 7:24:13 PM PDT
A 16-year-old is being charged as an adult in the shooting death of an Oakland toddler last November. Hiram Lawrence Jr. was in his father's arms when gunfire broke out. The little boy was shot and killed.

It is a tale of two families united in what both call "a senseless tragedy."

One grandmother says that the 16-year-old being charged as an adult is not the man prosecutors make him out to be. The second is a grandmother who says she and her family are still dealing with the loss of a little boy who brought so much joy to so many.

"I just don't know what to say. It's just, there's no words. I'm lost for words," Lawrence Jr.'s grandmother, Hazel Marie Lawrence, said.

Lawrence says she and her family are still dealing with the loss of the 23-month-old toddler, "I keep him in my heart 'cause I got a good heart, I got a spiritual heart." The grandmother notes that she went to court Friday to see the man that investigators say is responsible for the death of her grandson, "This is gonna be the way it's supposed to be done, justice."

Prosecutors say that Frederick Charles Coleman, 16, was part of a bloody shoot-out in the parking lot of a West Oakland liquor store after the taping of a rap video last November.

Lawrence Jr. was struck after gunfire exploded around him. The toddler died 11 days later, after his family decided to take him off life support.

Wanda Jenkins, the grandmother of the accused, fought back tears as she left the courtroom after hearing the charges against her grandson being read in open court -- charges that include one count of murder and six counts of attempted murder.

"He was raised good, properly," Jenkins said. "I just can't say no more."

Local law enforcement officials say they are confident they have correctly identified and charged the man with firing the shot that killed Hiram.

"It's really good to stand here and demonstrate to the public that we didn't get up on this case," Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan said.

Coleman does not have an attorney. He is expected to enter a plea when he returns to court on Monday.


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