■ Friends and fam­ily gath­ered to re­mem­ber slain teen Kwavon’tia Gre­gory Thomas.

Thomas shot in park­ing lot on Christ­mas Eve

Las Vegas Review-Journal (Sunday) - - FRONT PAGE - By Rio La­can­lale

When the cas­ket closed, Timika Thomas col­lapsed into her seat, cry­ing as if the air were too thick to swal­low in­side the north­east Las Ve­gas church.

Just mo­ments be­fore on Satur­day morn­ing, she was hunched over Kwavon’tia Gre­gory Thomas’ body and plant­ing kisses on his face. It would be the last time she would see her 18-year-old son.

Be­hind her, an au­di­ence of more than a hun­dred loved ones dressed in red and white — his fa­vorite col­ors — watched from their seats at Unity Bap­tist Church as Timika Thomas wailed.

A group of people rushed to her side to con­sole her, and Thomas clenched her fists. Rock­ing back and forth in her seat, she punched the top of her knees re­peat­edly, her head tilted, chin to the ceil­ing, as if she was search­ing for some­thing. But her eyes re­mained shut, re­veal­ing the red glit­ter painted across her eye­lids.

Her son was shot and killed on Christ­mas Eve in a park­ing lot near East Lake Mead Boule­vard and McDaniel Street, one of six young people gunned down in North Las Ve­gas last year be­tween Sep­tem­ber and De­cem­ber.

Jer­mar­iun Hick­man, 17, was

THOMAS

ar­rested late last month in Laugh­lin in con­nec­tion with Thomas’ death. Hick­man was booked into the Clark County De­ten­tion Cen­ter on one felony count of mur­der with a deadly weapon.

Kwavon’tia Thomas was born Aug. 18, 2000, in Pomona, Cal­i­for­nia, to Timika Thomas and Ed­ward South­hall, but he grew up in Las Ve­gas.

He was known to his fam­ily as “Nudy,” a nick­name given to him when he was lit­tle be­cause he would al­ways strip down.

“Mom, he’s get­ting naked again,” his brothers were of­ten heard say­ing, ac­cord­ing to his fam­ily.

He loved lis­ten­ing to mu­sic, swim­ming, play­ing video games and shoot­ing hoops. But most of all, he loved his fam­ily and friends.

So much so, that, dur­ing his cel­e­bra­tion of life Satur­day, it was dif­fi­cult to dis­cern fam­ily mem­bers from friends. Nearly every per­son who shared their fa­vorite mem­o­ries of Kwavon’tia Thomas de­clared into the mi­cro­phone that they loved him like he was fam­ily.

His mother did not speak dur­ing the ser­vice, but in­stead sang a song ti­tled “My Wor­ship is Real” in his mem­ory.

”You don’t know my story, all the things that I’ve been through,” Timika Thomas, dressed in red from head to toe, belted into the mi­cro­phone. Her voice cracked at times as she

choked back more tears.

Peer­ing at her son’s cas­ket from the podium, she sang a lit­tle louder, “You can’t feel my pain, what I had to go through to get here.”

Her pow­er­ful voice filled the large church as the white ve­neer of the cas­ket glis­tened un­der the faint light stream­ing in through the church’s win­dows. Out­side, it was cold and gray.

“I’m go­ing to sing that part one more time,” she said, draw­ing ap­plause from her fam­ily and friends who were now stand­ing in support.

But Timika Thomas wasn’t cry­ing any­more. In­ter­rupt­ing the cho­rus, she yelled and pointed to the ceil­ing, “Thank you, God, for 18 years with my baby.”

“I’m go­ing to see my baby again,” she said, her voice trail­ing off as she walked away from the mi­cro­phone.

Now stand­ing at her son’s side, she kissed his fore­head and cheeks. In a moth­erly ges­ture, Timika Thomas lifted her gaze to ad­mire her son’s fea­tures, then read­justed the col­lar of his red but­ton-down shirt.

Kwavon’tia Thomas leaves be­hind his par­ents; great-grand­mother Pear­lie Smith; grand­mother Jan­ice Thomas; brothers Kwame, Kwave, Todd, Carl­ton, Carr’mier and Carr’mony; sis­ter Amika; and a host of cousins, un­cles and aunts.

Chase Stevens Las Ve­gas Review-Jour­nal @cssteven­sphoto

Timika Thomas looks at her son, Kwavon’tia Gre­gory Thomas, dur­ing his me­mo­rial ser­vice Satur­day at Unity Bap­tist Church.

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