COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - A grieving mother and pastor honor the life of a beloved Columbus man with autism, who died in the hospital Saturday, after being beaten and robbed.
While the suspects are still on the run, this is what those who loved him the most said about Deonn Carter.
"He kept saying, 'momma I'm gonna be alright'," Carter's mother, Suzette Ragland said. "[He] went out to get the mail - and was murdered."
Ragland spent her son's final hours with him. Deonn Carter, a name many know in our community, died of a blood clot that traveled from his leg to his lung at Midtown Medical Center at 11:41 a.m. on Aug. 20.
"There's very few like him on the Earth as far as his ability to truly love everyone without boundaries," Carter's pastor Chase Welch said. "I have never met a soul so quick to love and forgive people."
Carter, 30, sustained a gunshot wound to the leg during an armed robbery on Armour Road on Aug. 9. Police have not publicly named any suspects in this crime. And 11 days after armed robbers attacked the Columbus man with autism, hundreds who had visited him in the hospital were shocked to hear Deonn was gone.
"I saw tears in men's eyes, that say they don't cry, I saw tears everywhere," Ragland said.
The community, law enforcement, and people from his church - where he was called the "deacon of joy" showered him with gifts, and now, a homemade memorial at his home.
"I can't thank them enough for all the love...it's funny because Deonn just lit up with the EMTs and police," Ragland said.
Ragland said she's OK with Deonn's death because he's no longer suffering in Heaven.
"And I can talk to him every day," RagIand said. "I just have to look up."
Deonn forgiving those who beat and robbed him, but his pastor and mom have a message for the attackers to stop running, turn yourself in, and get right with God.
"You're not just going to have to face the judge, you're going to have to face the King one day," Welch said.
Carter was a fixture in his community and had an endless stream of visitors from the law enforcement. Carter worked as a beloved grocery bagger and stocker at the Piggly Wiggly on River Road.
Ragland says she's not angry, but disappointed with his attackers.
Pastor Welch tells us he expects 1,000 people to attend Deonn's home-going service, which will be Friday, Aug. 26 at 1 p.m. at Cascade Hills Church in Columbus.
Family and friends have also established a fundraiser for Carter's family. If you wish to donate, you can click here, or you can go to CB&T and donate to the "Justice for Deonn Carter" account.