Nizzear Rodriguez and his grandmother had just celebrated his birthday with a late-night dinner at Applebee’s. Sometime after 2 a.m. Sunday, police say, intruders broke into the family’s townhome in Carrollton, climbed the stairs and shot the seventh-grader in his bed.
“If your child isn’t safe in his bed, he isn’t safe anywhere,” the slain boy’s grandmother told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. She said the killers were so quiet, nobody in the family woke up when her grandson was slain.
Police have charged three suspects with murder – Malik Davis, 17; Kenneth Wheat, 21; and Jackquline Leann Freeman, 24. Police haven’t given a motive but say Nizzear was an innocent victim, suggesting the killing might have been a case of mistaken identity.
Stout-Osorio said she knows the two men who have been charged, and at the police station one of them told her that he was sorry.
Relatives and neighbors said Nizzear, who entered his teenage years still less than 5 feet tall, had the intelligence and manners of a much older person. He had lived with his grandmother since he was 5. His nickname was Jimmy Neutron, the name of a cartoon “boy genius.”
“The respect he showed his elders was different than other kids,” said Andrew Ealy, a neighbor of the family.
The family plans a visitation for Nizzear next Friday at Tabernacle Baptist Church in Carrollton, about 45 miles west of Atlanta. His funeral will be held at the church Saturday.
Meanwhile, the boy’s grieving family wants answers to what can only appear to be a senseless death.
“Why? What was the motive?” Stout-Osorio said. “I don’t understand. Ain’t no word to explain it. I’m like an empty shell.”