15-year-old who was killed at Easton Sunday was role model; calming presence in family

Ra'Shawyn Carter Jr., 15, pictured here in April, died Sunday, Aug. 27, 2023, after being shot at Easton Town Center. Columbus police have arrested and charged two 13-year-old males in connection with his death.

Ra’Shawyn Anthony Carter Jr. was the rock in his large family, a calming presence and someone the younger kids looked up to.

Ra’Shawyn, 15, was fatally shot on Sunday evening at Easton Town Center. Two 13-year-old males have been arrested by Columbus police in connection with his death.

Before he died, he served as the man of the house and a soothing presence for his mother, four younger siblings, his grandmother, five aunts and 21 younger cousins, said Zarya Turner, 23, who is one of Ra’Shawyn’s aunts.

The family had already suffered two deaths due to gun violence: Ra’Shawyn’s stepfather, Gavin Lane, was killed in July 2021 in a drive-by shooting, and his uncle was killed in April during a home invasion that wounded another one of the aunts, Turner said.

“He kept everyone strong. Whatever would happen, he was always the one who was like: ‘Here’s the checklist; make sure they’re eating,'” Turner told The Dispatch. “It was insane. It made everyone just be like ‘OK, we got this.'”

Some of that calming presence remains even after his death, she said.

“It’s why everyone is handling this better than we thought, because it’s like he’s wrapping around all of us,” Turner said. “It’s like he’s saying: ‘It’s OK. I’m at peace. You guys are going to be OK.'”

Easton shooting:What we know about the Easton Town Center shooting on Sunday night

How Ra’Shawyn died

Ra’Shawyn was having a great day on Sunday, said Turner, who talked to him about an hour before he was shot. She Facetimed with him, and saw some of his friends whom she knows in the background.

“He was telling me the movie was good,” she said, adding that he also frequently checked in with his family through their group chat. “He was having fun. He was having a great day.”

He had just seen a movie with his friends at the AMC Easton 30, the movie theater at Easton Town Center, for $4 since it was National Cinema Day. Turner said he was likely getting ready to head home when he was shot in an outdoor area of the complex.

Ra'Shawyn Carter Jr., 15, pictured here in July, died after being shot on Aug. 27, 2023 at Easton Town Center. He was very close with his younger siblings and step-siblings, who he is pictured with here.

The first 911 call about the shooting came in at 6:12 p.m., followed by several more from people at Easton. One of the callers was from the luluemon store, nearly a block from the movie theater, where an employee reported a teen who had been shot had collapsed in front of the store.

Tamara Chavis, 53, his grandmother, told The Dispatch that she heard from some of Ra’Shawyn’s friends who were with him that he didn’t even realize he was shot at first. They saw him unzip his jacket, see the blood on his chest and collapse, she said.

Ra’Shawyn was given CPR by a special-duty Columbus police officer who arrived at the scene within a minute of the shooting. Medics transported him to Mount Carmel East hospital, where he died at 6:50 p.m., police said.

Chavis, Turner and Ky Steele, 30, another aunt, said they don’t think Ra’Shawyn knew the two boys who have been charged in connection with the shooting.

One of the suspects is charged as a juvenile, with murder and tampering with evidence for allegedly shooting Ra’Shawyn and then dumping the gun he used into a trash can. The other teen is charged as a juvenile with obstruction of justice because police say he lied to investigators when he said he was not with the other suspect and did not know about the shooting.

Police say surveillance video captured the two teen suspects together, and they were arrested shortly after the shooting. The Dispatch is not naming the teens at this time because of their ages.

Remembering Ra’Shawyn

On Tuesday afternoon, Turner was sitting outside her mother’s Whitehall home with Ra’Shawyn’s mom Trenise Turner, 32, who was too upset to talk; Rena Tauanuu, 35, Ra’Shawyn’s aunt; Steele and Chavis.

Ra'Shawyn Carter Jr., is pictured here in July 2021 at the funeral of his stepfather, Gavin Lane, who was killed in a drive-by shooting.  Carter, 15, was fatally shot Sunday, Aug. 27, 2023, in an outside area at Easton Town Center.

There were lots of tears over the past few days, Turner said, but there were also lots of shared memories, laughter and a little happiness knowing the weather was Ra’Shawyn’s idea of a perfect day.

The women came and went, and other friends and family members stopped by to talk to them as they sat on plastic chairs on the driveway, in the shade of a tree on the quiet street, enjoying the light breeze.

As the oldest grandson and the first boy in Chavis’ family after she had five girls, Ra’Shawyn was beloved and relied on.

He was also spoiled by all the women in his family, they said, laughing at memories of him asking each one of his aunts for money to feed his fashion and shoe habit. They once all gave him $20, and then he went to his grandmother to get the rest of what he needed, since he liked expensive clothes.

“If he could shop all day, he would,” Steele said. “He loved shopping, loves clothes, Jordans, Yeezys. He loves dressing very nice.”

Ra’Shawyn would often buy clothes online for his grandmother, who he also called “mom,” with her credit card for her to wear to his football games.

Each time Turner left the house, she said Ra’Shawyn would inspect her outfit to make sure it matched and was in style. He and Turner were very close and grew up like siblings, so much so that Ra’Shawyn would introduce her to his friends as his sister. Even the school knew Turner as his “sister auntie.”

‘A star in the making’

Ra'Shawyn Carter Jr., 15, pictured here in September 2022, died after being shot on Aug. 27, 2023 at Easton Town Center. He played football with the Columbus Dream team as defensive end and is in his uniform here.

A freshman at Columbus City’s Walnut Ridge High School, Ra’Shawyn had been really excited to leave middle school to start high school and loved his first few weeks of school, Turner and Steele said. In school, he liked math because he was into money — making it by doing odd jobs around his neighborhood and spending it, Turner said.

He played last year for the Columbus Dream football team as a defensive end and was looking forward to playing high school football this year.

Ra’Shawyn was a “star in the making,” said Dominic Jones, president of the team’s parent organization, Legacy Youth Academy.

“He was a great kid,” Jones said. “He was a part of our league last year, somebody who had a bright future, always had a smile on his face and he’ll be greatly missed by our community.”

Ra’Shawyn’s favorite subject in school was football, Turner joked.

“He was very good at it, too,” Chavis said. “The kids on the Dream, his team, they all looked up to him.”

Jones said the two teens charged were not members of the Dream football team. Columbus City Schools confirmed that both 13-year-olds were district students.

Tragedy strikes family for the third time

Ra'Shawyn Carter Jr., 15, pictured here in September 2022 with his siblings, died after being shot on Aug. 27, 2023 at Easton Town Center. He played football with the Columbus Dream team as defensive end.

After his uncle, Brandon Gilliam, was killed in April during a home invasion in front of his five young sons, Ra’Shawyn started spending time at their house, playing football with them in the front yard, shooting hoops outside and riding bikes around the neighborhood.

“They looked up to him like a big brother,” Turner said of Gilliam’s children. “He was so mature and so tall. He’s our oldest grandchild in the family, so they were like: ‘OK, he’s the brains. He’ll take us under his wing and tell us about growing up.’ And he did, about football and girls.”

Ra’Shawyn was also a role model to his own younger siblings, three younger brothers and one younger sister on his mom’s side, and was close with his three older sisters on his dad’s side, Turner said.

His stepfather’s death was really hard on him, Turner said, as was the death of his uncle. Ra’Shawyn stepped up as the man of the family for his younger siblings and cousins after both.

“He was very hands on and protective over them and taught them everything,” Turner said. “They are devastated. He was very close to them, it’s terrible. Since they lost their dad, he was the father figure, the man of the house. Even before that, he was their protector, their best friend, the cool one.”

Though the past few years were hard on him, Turner said Ra’Shawyn was beginning to do better, to find happiness through time with his friends, whether by going to the mall, looking at the water Downtown at the Scioto Mile or playing football. He had a longtime girlfriend and friends who he grew up with, as all their parents grew up together.

“He was just a really active, social but shy person,” Turner said. “He was really private, but once he got to know you he was really loving and open.”

Ra'Shawyn Carter Jr., 15, died after being shot on Aug. 27, 2023 at Easton Town Center. He is pictured here in July 2021 with his younger siblings at his stepfather's funeral.

His nicknames were “RJ” for Ra’Shawyn Jr., which he liked to lengthen to R Jay, and “Bubby,” bestowed upon him by Chavis, who started it by calling him “Bubby Face” as a baby because he had fat cheeks, Turner said.

The older he got, the more he would tell his aunts and grandmother not to call him Bubby, but they still did, as it always brought a smile to the teen’s face, she said.

Turner wants people to know how loving Ra’Shawyn was.

“Even though he was so young, he really was like glue,” she said. “For his friends, for his family. … He really was a calming presence, he really was glue. He kept everyone together.”

Dispatch Reporters Bethany Bruner and Cole Behrens contributed to this story.



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