AIKEN - If there is a pond in heaven, Brandon DuBose is fishing it.
That's what friends and family of the 13-year-old Kennedy Middle School pupil said Friday night at Mount Anna Baptist Church, remembering Brandon as a boy who loved fishing, hunting, praying and telling jokes.
Brandon and his stepmother, Frances DuBose, were shot by his father, Bobby DuBose, in their Travellers Lane home Feb. 7, police say. The two were shot in the morning, before Brandon would have headed to school.
Mr. DuBose waited until 3:30 p.m. to call police, saying a burglar had shot him. Police say he shot himself soon after placing the call.
Those who gathered at the church - many of Brandon's classmates and neighborhood friends - did not mention the details of his death.
They laughed more than they cried. They talked about the times they shared with Brandon, and what he might be doing now.
Brandon's stepfather, Steve Batterton, spoke for Brandon's family members living in the Lowcountry. Mr. Batterton read from a eulogy delivered this week at a funeral there for Brandon.
"Brandon would probably brag about how big the deer in heaven are," he said.
Mr. Batterton and Brandon's mother, Cathy Batterton, came to Aiken on Friday and visited with many of the people who knew the youngster.
The family took home some of the posters Brandon's classmates had made to remember him.
"We did not know how much Brandon was loved until we came here," Mr. Batterton said.
The DuBoses moved from Ridgeland to their south Aiken home about a year ago. Brandon often went back to Jasper County to visit his other family members.
His maternal grandfather, Max Malphrus, was one of many who shared the reason Brandon brought smiles to his face.
Mr. Malphrus remembered a time when he and Brandon were riding in his truck and Brandon looked up to the sky. "The gates of heaven are opening," the young boy told his grandfather.
Mr. Malphrus said he replied that he would wait at the gate for Brandon, assuming because of his age he would get there first.
"And he said, 'If I go first, I'll wait for you,"' Mr. Malphrus said. "Now Brandon has gone first, and he is waiting."
Mr. Malphrus said that, because the boy is in heaven, there is hope on earth.
"Brandon was not an ordinary boy," Mr. Malphrus said. "You could see God in him. You could see Jesus in him. You could see life in him."
Reach Matthew Boedy at (803) 648-1395 or firstname.lastname@example.org.