More than 100 family members and friends of Brandon Bindon packed into a narrow street off North Foster Drive at sunset Sunday to release white balloons in memory of the teen who was accidentally shot and killed Tuesday.
Most of them held one or two balloons, but Mia Bindon, 35, Brandon’s mother, held 14, one for every year of Brandon’s life. After a short prayer, the balloons wafted into the sky and drifted north to the sound of cheers and clapping.
When asked how she felt, Mia Bindon shook her head and said she was speechless.
“The balloon release is to release the pain and pressure that we have built up,” said Brandon’s cousin, Xierra Bindon, 23. “We are trying to celebrate and still be upbeat.”
Capitol Middle School student Brandon died Tuesday when his best friend, Sheldon Payne Jr., 16, accidentally fired a revolver he was playing with while the two boys along with two others were sitting in a car outside Brandon’s home. Police said the bullet struck the teen in the side. He was pronounced dead at an area hospital.
“I’m still in shock,” Mia Bindon said. “It’s still not real to me.”
Brenell Green, 16, of Baton Rouge, who was one of the boys in the car with Brandon, said the sound of the shot was not as loud as he would have thought. Neighbors have said they heard no sounds, most likely because of thunderstorms sweeping through the city that night.
Brandon’s mother said she was inside the house when she heard her daughter screaming that Brandon had been shot. She said by the time she got out the front door, Brandon had jumped out of the car and tried to run to the house, but collapsed backward after a few paces through the yard.
Green said everyone in the car jumped out. Everyone was shouting, “It’s not supposed to happen like that,” over and over, he said.
Mia Bindon said she knelt over her son and called his name, and though his eyes were open, he did not respond.
“He took a breath so deep, as if his stomach touched his back, then he relaxed everything,” she said. “He didn’t breathe after that.”
Mia Bindon said she plans to release 14 white balloons every year on the anniversary of the day he was killed.
Payne, who did not attend the balloon release, was booked into the parish’s juvenile detention center shortly after the shooting Tuesday on a count of negligent homicide and has since been released on $5,000 bail.
Brandon’s family has since asked for leniency for Payne.
Because the shooting was an accident, the case will be tried in juvenile court.
Family members recounted Sunday how Brandon spent his last days joking with friends and splashing around a pool his mother set up in the backyard less than a week before the shooting.
“He really enjoyed his last few days for sure,” Xierra Bindon said.
Days before the shooting, a friend took a picture of him leaping through the air, which Brandon said was his new favorite picture because it made him look famous, his mother said.
Every day since the shooting on Tuesday, more than 50 friends and family have stopped by the Bindon house on North 48th Street to offer support, said Brandon’s aunt, Shawnda Bindon Hawkins, 40, of Baton Rouge.
A viewing and service will be held Monday morning at Winnfield Funeral Home, 7221 Plank Road, Baton Rouge. Interment will be in Stewart’s Cemetery in Woodville, Mississippi.
Payne is scheduled to appear in Juvenile Court Judge Pamela Taylor Johnson’s courtroom at 9 a.m. June 23.