Slain teen remembered for bringing joy, unity to Atlanta neighborhood

The family of a 16-year-old boy, who was shot and killed on Judy Lane in southwest Atlanta two days ago, has identified him as Rodney Thompson. 

Community leaders described Thompson as a teen who had a bright future and who tried to help his community. 

"He brought laughter, he brought joy, he brought the family together. And they're going to miss those smiles and those moments," said Tekesia Shields, founder of Mothers Against Gang Violence.  

That’s how she says Rodney Thompson's grandmother described him. 

She and Atlanta City Council member Antonio Lewis met with Thompson's grandmother and family on Friday. 

Shields says his grandmother wanted her to speak with Fox 5 on her behalf. 

She says Thompson was living with his grandmother at the home on Judy Lane where he was shot and killed Wednesday night at around 7 p.m. 

"Someone came into the home, it wasn't a break-in. It was someone that he knew, someone that he trusted, that he thought he trusted, that came into his home. They came into the room where he slept and they just took his life... with that being in their home, they really feel unsafe," Shields said.  

Shields says the family has no idea why someone would want to kill him. 

Lewis says that's why he spent time canvassing the area on Friday.   

"My job is to get with the police and try to find some real justice. So that's why I'm out here today... so we're putting the word out in the community that folks need to turn themselves in because we’re looking for you and these cameras are truly working," Lewis said.  

This loss hits close to home for Lewis. He says he and Thompson got their hair cut at the same barbershop and would often talk.  

Lewis says just this week he was working to help Thompson apply for jobs at the barbershop.  

"On Monday, we got a haircut together at the same barbershop. Rodney told me he filled out an application for a job at Crystal’s. He told me he was disappointed because he didn't get the job. While I was there, I grabbed his cell phone, opened it up, and I helped him fill out the application to the ATL Year of the Youth [Summer Youth Employment] program. And that's a job that we knew he could get," Lewis said.  

Lewis called Thompson a "phoenix," a life full of potential cut short by violence.  

"It hurts… I cry for every young black boy that’s killed, because I knew they deserved a second chance, I knew they deserved to grow old," Lewis said.  

Shields says this family wants the people responsible to do the right thing and give them the justice and peace they deserve. 

"The message is to come forward... they definitely want you to come forward. They definitely want to bring peace to the family, and they do not want retaliation in the community," Shields said.  

The family is asking anyone with information to call APD at 404-614-6544.