A Texas pastor and community activist against violence says he’s being kept strong by God’s peace days after his 19-year-old son was fatally gunned down in a parking lot after an argument with a 56-year-old gang member.
“I thank God for my peace. … My testimony is this, that God has kept me and God is continuing to keep me in the storm where most people would just flip out and just be in a whole other place,” Pastor Darrell Boyce said in a Facebook Live broadcast on Tuesday about the murder of his son, Avante Boyce.
Police in San Antonio say Avante Boyce died after he was shot multiple times on the afternoon of March 31 in the parking lot of the East Meadows Complex. The teen, who is a father of two, collapsed while trying to escape.
“God’s peace is my testimony. That’s my testimony. It’s that plain and that simple. I love my son. I thank God for him, for the 19 years that He loaned him to me. And I thank God for His peace, even in the midst of this storm,” the pastor continued about his late son on Tuesday.
“Even in the valley He is giving me a peace and I thank Him for it,” he added before launching into a prayer during which he asked God to bless families in mourning due to the loss of a loved one.
Police have identified Vernon “Keno” Dixon as a suspect in the murder of Avante Boyce and are now seeking the public’s assistance in his arrest. The suspect, who is said to frequent the east and west sides of San Antonio, is also a documented “blood” gang member.
Just hours after his son’s murder, Boyce called his son’s killer a coward.
“To the COWARD that took his life and anyone involved I pray that God’s justice be upon you. This is my only biological child. He has 2 sons of his own who will never be able to see him again. You are a COWARD. QUIT RUNNING TURN YOURSELVES IN!!!!” he wrote in a post of Facebook.
While he is praising God for helping him keep his peace, Boyce told KENS5 that his son’s death has been difficult for his family. He also noted that his son was a talented artist who dreamed of owning his own ice-cream truck.
Less than three years ago, when he was 17, Avante Boyce narrowly missed being killed as he headed to the basketball court to play with friends, an earlier report from KENS 5 said. Pastor Boyce told the news outlet at the time that Avante was on his way to play basketball with his best friend when he heard gunshots. He later found his friend shot in the chest.
"I just hate for any child to see what my son saw yesterday, his best friend laying dead on the ground," Boyce said at the time. "He actually went and took his shirt off and tried to stop the bleeding."
The grieving pastor who was asked about what advice he would give to parents after that shooting urged parents to tell their children how much they love them.
“One of the things parents should be doing is, one, telling their kids that they love them. Two, hugging their kids as much as possible. And three, letting their kids know, 'hey, you're still alive. You have to live after this traumatic thing that just happened in front of you,’” Boyce said. “You have to let your kids know you have their back 100% of the time and point the kids in the right direction.”
A GoFundMe campaign is seeking to raise $16,000 to assist with burial arrangements.