Atlanta/ Crime & Emergencies
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Published on May 14, 2024
Atlanta Airman's Life Honored, Air Force Mourn as Mother's Agony Takes Wing After Florida ShootingSource: GoFundMe

A vigil brimming with grief and frustration was held in metro Atlanta for Senior Airman Roger Fortson, who was fatally shot by a Florida deputy, family and friends gathered to honor the serviceman's life, reported 11Alive. Fortson's mother, Chantemekki Fortson, was surrounded by supporters donning red shirts, her son's favorite color, while candles spelled out "my gift", a poignant nod to how she referred to her late son.

During the emotional event, Chantemekki lamented the irreparable loss, stating "I’ll never hear his voice again," and expressing a grief so profound she couldn't feel her own heartbeat, this statement was obtained by 11Alive. According to body cam footage, Fortson, who was 23, was shot six times by an Okaloosa County deputy after opening his door, holding a gun pointed to the ground and without a given chance to react or comply with commands.

Devastation has equally radiated through the Air Force community, a shrine has been erected at Fortson's former residence with Air Force unit members, leaving tributes and a wooden plank for writing prayers, as reported by FOX 5 Atlanta. The shrine features combat boots, aviator wings, and symbolic ammunition shells that reflect Fortson's role as an AC-130J gunner, amplifying the sentiment of loss among grieving comrades.

Amidst the sorrow, Lt. Gen. Tony Bauernfeind, head of Air Force Special Operations Command, is urging leaders to support troops through the turmoil, "We have grieving teammates with differing journeys," he articulated, shedding light on the complex emotions at play, his statement was acquired from FOX 5 Atlanta. A flyover of Special Operations AC-130s is planned for Fortson's upcoming Georgia funeral, showcasing military solidarity in the face of this tragedy.