Candlelight vigil held for slain toddler

Published On: Mar 25 2013 06:27:28 AM EDT

The pain of an unthinkable murder is still fresh in the minds of the people of Brunswick.

BRUNSWICK, Ga. -

The pain of an unthinkable murder is still fresh in the minds of the people of Brunswick as residents cope with the death of a 13-month-old boy, who was gunned down in his stroller right in front of his mother in broad daylight.

“It's a horrendous thing and very disturbing,” said Virginia Ray.

Dozens of family and friends gathered Sunday night at a Brunswick church to pray for the family, who was visibly shaken over the slaying of little Antonio Santiago.

“This community has been shocked, stunned, mortified, something never experienced before,” said Mayor Bryan Thompson.

The community found strength through prayer during a candle light service at the First Presbyterian Church.

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Antonio's father said the community’s prayers give him strength to talk publicly.

“I am so blessed, I just thank God for all these people in the community,” said Louis Santiago, the slain boy’s father.

Santiago said he has hope for the teen suspects arrested and charged with first degree murder.

“I just want to tell the families and the people in this community, the little boys that did it that I forgive them,” said Santiago.

Meanwhile, the boy's mother Sherry West says she has no doubt a teenage suspect is the man who killed her 13-month-old son, but family members say he wasn't anywhere near the scene.

That's definitely him," Sherry West said Saturday when she saw the jail mugshot of 17-year-old De'Marquise Elkins, who is charged as an adult with first-degree murder. Police also arrested a 14-year-old who has not been identified because he's a minor.

Police announced the arrests of Elkins and the 14-year-old Friday afternoon. But Elkins' older sister said her family knows he wasn't involved in the shooting.

"My brother wasn't anywhere near that area as far as we know — not the scene or the shooting," she said Saturday. She said she didn't know whether Elkins had a lawyer.

"He couldn't have done that to a little baby," she said. "My brother has a good heart."

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