Jamarcus Allen was a typical 4-year-old boy. He was a ball of energy, loved superheroes and had a curiosity about guns.
Just last week, his mother said, Jamarcus found his father’s pistol when it was supposed to be hidden in a bathroom of their Akron home. Jamella Allen said she scolded Jamarcus and demanded that her husband get rid of the gun.
On Wednesday morning, it appears that same gun was fired, the bullet piercing the head of Jamarcus. He died at Akron Children’s Hospital.
Jamella Allen, 42, spoke Wednesday afternoon, just hours after learning her son was dead.
She recounted the gun story and how she demanded that her husband take the firearm from the house. Now, she is left mourning and wondering why and how her son died.
“I don’t know. I’m going crazy wondering what happened,” Jamella Allen said.
Police have charged the boy’s father, Terrance Allen, with involuntary manslaughter, felony child endangering, having weapons under disability and tampering with evidence.
Terrance Allen, 48, was driving a Ford Taurus at South Arlington Street and Davies Avenue when he suddenly pulled over. Police said he waved down a Summit County sheriff’s deputy who happened to be driving nearby about 9:30 a.m. A witness said he saw the father on the ground with the boy on his chest.
“The cop approached the vehicle and the guy just laid on the ground and he had a child in his arms,” said Robert Leslie, who noticed the commotion while working at Monro Muffler on South Arlington Street. “He was talking to the guy, I don’t know what he was asking him, and then all of a sudden, the officer finally yanked really hard, grabbed the [boy] and ran to the ambulance and the ambulance just took off like crazy.”
Jamarcus was pronounced dead at 10:30 a.m. at Akron Children’s Hospital.
A bullet hole through the roof of the car was clearly visible. The hole was above the rear passenger seat, where a pool of blood could be seen. It appears the bullet was fired inside the sedan and exited through the roof.
Police Lt. Rick Edwards said investigators recovered a gun inside the man’s sedan.
“It appears the child got ahold of the gun and shot accidentally inside the car,” Edwards said.
Jamella and Terrance Allen were in the midst of a divorce, but still lived together in a McKinley Avenue home with her 18-year-old son, Tyree Ruggs.
Just last week, Terrance Allen filed court papers in Summit County Domestic Relations Court asking for a continuance of his divorce case. He wrote in a motion to the court that he and Jamella were back together and trying to work out their differences. The couple had been together about 11 years.
On Wednesday morning, relatives said Terrance Allen drove the older boy to classes at Garfield High School. Jamarcus went along for the ride. The shooting occurred sometime after they left Garfield High.
Jamella Allen said she learned about her husband’s gun last summer. He told her it was a laser gun, not a pistol, and he said he bought it at a gun show.
Nonetheless, she said, she urged him to get the gun out of the house and believed he had.
According to police and court records, Terrance Allen has a prior felony burglary conviction in Cuyahoga County, which bars him from carrying or owning a firearm.
But last week, Jamella Allen said she was upstairs sitting in a bedroom, when her older son came in and said he just took the pistol from Jamarcus’ hand.
The younger boy had apparently found the gun, which was supposed to have been hidden inside a bathroom wall, the family said.
Again, the mother said, she demanded the gun be taken out of the house.
“Jamarcus was a child, he liked guns,” Jamella Allen said. “But he didn’t know it was real.”
Jamella Allen said she is left with questions and only memories of her youngest son.
“Jamarcus wouldn’t stop. He was so full of life,” she said. “The only way he would stop was when he would fall asleep. That’s the only thing that would slow him down. I love him to death. He would say, ‘I love you, Mommy’ all the time. He was a fun-loving little boy and now he’s gone.”
Aside from Batman and Spider-Man, Jamarcus loved football. And family members say he was eager to start kindergarten next fall. Most days, they said, he could be found playing with his 2-year-old cousin, Aniyah.
The girl’s mother, Jasmine Palmer, said Jamarcus and her daughter were almost inseparable playmates.
She doubts the boy could have shot himself.
“I just don’t believe that,” she said Wednesday. “My little cousin wouldn’t pick up a gun and shoot himself. He knows better.”
The boy’s grandmother, Shirley Colvin, said Jamarcus was full of life and love. It’s a loss for her family and the Akron community, she said.
“Jamarcus was a beautiful person. He was so sweet,” she said. “I just loved him and he loved everybody.”
Phil Trexler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330 996-3717.