WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- In 1993, Christmas Eve took on a new meaning for Angee Brannon, as it marked the day she gave birth to her first-born, Michael Thompson. But, in 2016, the added happiness the holiday brought was dashed, when it became the day her second-born, Theron Brannon III, was shot to death at their home.
“It was chaos,” Brannon said. “Just bullets, shots.”
In the early morning hours Theron, or “Tre,” returned to their home on Nancy Lane in Winston-Salem after celebrating the first hours of his older brother’s birthday.
“Last thing I said to him was, ‘I love you, I’ll see you later on.’ I got the text on my phone right now,” Thompson said.
Around 2 o’clock, the family heard gunshots outside. But, they wouldn’t be the last shots fired in their neighborhood that morning.
“There was a knock at the door around 3 o’clock,” Brannon recalled.
Brannon added that Tre had answered the door and said there was a man who claimed he had been jumped and was notifying them that he would be looking for a phone he believed may have been in the Brannon’s front yard. But, minutes later came another knock.
“This time when I heard Tre open the door, there were just gunshots,” Brannon said.
Brannon ran toward the front of the house as bullets continues to fly, hitting vehicles, their home and Tre.
“Are you hit,” Brannon said she asked Tre, as he sat in a chair inside their home. “He couldn’t talk, he just grunted at me, like he was just mad and it hurt.”
Brannon said she called 911, while pleading with Tre to “hold on,” saying he “was just blinking at me.”
“I guess he knew he couldn’t hold on anymore, he knew he couldn’t hold on anymore,” Brannon recalled. “So he said, ‘I love you,’ and then he took his last breath.”
Thompson said he still has a voicemail which captured the last moments of Tre’s life.
“I can still listen to it,” he said. “I can still hear my brother dying.”
Brannon said Tre was a straight-A student, who had dreams of building generators for lower income community members. She says he started an initiative called “Operation Community Unity,” directed at unifying their community. Tre would often lead peace walks in different neighborhoods and spoke out against what ultimately claimed his life; gun violence.
“He wanted the kids to have a future, he wanted them not to turn to drugs and gun violence,” Brannon said.
Tre also had plans for himself, she said. The company for which he worked planned to send him to Germany for training.
“It wasn’t gonna cost him a thing,” she said. "They were just gonna send him, all expenses paid.”
Upon his return, Tre planned to go to college this fall, while trying to buy a house and continuing to be a father to his young daughter, Selona.
“She’s never gonna see her daddy again,” Brannon said.
Tre would have turned 20 in May.
“He’s the one that ends up dying due to gun violence when he was fighting so hard to try to get people to go a different route,” Brannon added.
Today, police say they have a person of interest in Tre’s murder, but need more witnesses to come forward to give them the information they need to pursue charges. Police say shortly after Tre’s murder was reported to them, a man by the name of Bryan Markuise Little arrived at a local hospital suffering from a gunshot wound.
“My son’s legacy will remain,” Brannon said.
Winston-Salem police say there were 17 homicides in the city in 2015. Three of those homicides remain unsolved, but there is a subject of interest in one of the unsolved cases. In 2016, they say there were 24 homicides in Winston-Salem, with six of them remaining unsolved. Officers add that there are subjects of interest in two of those cases. Thus far in 2017, there have been 19 homicides in the city, with nine of them unsolved and subjects of interest in six of the cases. Police add that there have been arrests made for charges other than homicide in relation to three of the 2017 unsolved homicides.