FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) — Rita Ballard will never forget January 7, 2021. On that night her 17-year-old son, Anthony Adams was gunned down in front of their Fayetteville home.

“No parent. Not my own worst enemy should ever have to go on with the images in watching your child take their last breaths,” Ballard said.


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The grieving mother said she got a good look at her son’s killer. For nearly two and a half years, Jaylen Routt has been wanted in Cumberland County for the teen’s murder. Deputies couldn’t find him, although he would post on social media.

“When you lose a child in front of you and you’re scared to leave your home and you’re scared to live through guilty,” Ballard said.

On Friday, Routt, 20, was killed after shooting at North Carolina State Troopers following a high-speed chase that ended in Wake County.

“I hope one day I can find peace and forgiveness for him. I’m very sad it ended this way. I know a part of me would need to forgive him, so I can move forward. But at the same time, I have sadness as a mother, empathy, and compassion. From what I have learned about him he didn’t have his parents, under-educated, poor, in this area it’s bad,” Ballard said.

She was hoping Routt would get his day in court.

“He should have rotted in jail. He should have sat there on the capital murder charges and thought about my son every day, Ballard said.

Now she may never know why her son was killed. As she walks past her son’s urn, it serves as a daily reminder of her memories of him.

“Parents be there as much as you can because your child could walk out that door and the next thing you can hear is gunshots,” Ballard said.

The single mother of four feels guilt that she worked two jobs and barely had time to spend with her children.

“Us single parents need help. Not government assistance. They need educating, a support system,” she said.

Ballard said enough is enough with the youth gun violence in Fayetteville. It is time to hold people accountable.

“How are children getting these guns? How are they? I believe that we all should have the right to bear arms, absolutely, to protect our own. But how are children getting a hold of these guns?” Ballard asked.

At some point, Ballard wants to turn her pain into purpose and save the lives of other teens in Fayetteville from gun violence.

“I wish that in some way shape or form, my son can live on by helping somebody else, save a child, save a family,” Ballard said in tears.