At 11:08 a.m. yesterday, 2-year-old Terrence Webster died from a bullet wound to his head.
"He died on his own, thank God for that," said Robin Powell, Webster's maternal grandmother, who had sat vigil by the Chester tot's bedside. "We wouldn't have ever been able to make the decision to take his tiny body off of life support."
While grateful that his soul will rest in peace, Powell is enraged that a killer stole his life away before he had a chance to live it.
Webster was returning home with his parents, Tisheta Green, 25, and Thomas Webster, 26, and his 4-year-old brother, Thomas "T.J." Webster Jr., to their apartment in a public-housing development on 9th Street about 2:30 a.m. Sunday when a gunman ambushed the family.
Powell said that the four were able to escape gunfire outside of the home and get inside, but when the unidentified gunman shot two bullets through the door, one of them struck Thomas Webster in the hand and then hit Terrence in the head.
The other bullet struck Green in her left leg, police and family said. Friends said that Green didn't know she was shot until after she arrived at the hospital, cradling her bleeding son in her arms.
The only member of the family to escape physically unharmed was T.J., Powell said.
More than a dozen friends and relatives gathered in Powell's Brookhaven home yesterday evening to mourn Terrence, lovingly known as "Lil' Pop" because of his affection for Pop-Tarts.
"He was bright," Powell said. "He was sunshine."
As the Rev. Calvin Williams led the group in prayer in a steamy living room with the curtains closed, Powell sobbed into the leg where her daughter had been shot. Green herself said nothing, as she lay on the couch, overcome with anguish and pain.
It's been less than two months since Powell mourned the death of her own son, Thomas Lee "Bear-Bear" Green Jr., 23, who was shot and killed on April 17. His alleged killer, 16-year-old Omar Rashad Hooks, has been arrested. Police have not yet released a motive in that slaying.
"We just did this," Powell said. "It ain't even been two months and I'm grieving again. Our family is really close. We just don't live the way our children died."
Powell said that T.J., Terrence's brother, has been traumatized by what he witnessed.
"He's scared to death of the dark and loud noises now," she said.
At the apartment where Terrence lived with his family, neighbors have scribbled messages on the door for him in marker pen and erected a memorial that includes stuffed animals, flags and Pop-Tarts.
Today, they plan to hold a barbecue in his honor in a parking lot adjacent to the home where he used to playfully shout to neighbors from a second-floor window.
All of the money raised will be donated to help Terrence's family with funeral costs, neighbors said.