The last time that Anita Barthelemy saw her 13-year-old son was Friday night after he had just cleaned his room. He told her he loved her and said he was going to play with some of his friends.
Minutes later, Barthelemy heard ambulances and sheriff's vehicles rushing into the Mallard Apartments, a gated complex in the 11000 block of Greenwell Springs Road.
Her son, Zion Barthelemy, had been shot in the head around 7 p.m. and died later in a hospital. The next day, two of his friends would be arrested in what the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office said was an accidental shooting.
Anita Barthelemy and her family gathered in her apartment Saturday morning, hugging each other and remembering Zion.
"I don't know what went wrong or what happened," Barthelemy said. "He's not a trouble kid here. He's never in trouble. Everybody around here knows him. … I don't understand it."
The two boys who were arrested late Saturday, one 12 and the other 13, were friends of the victim and the shooting was an accident, Sheriff's Office Spokeswoman Casey Rayborn Hicks said.
The 13-year-old was booked into the East Baton Rouge Parish Juvenile Detention Center on negligent homicide and the 12-year-old was booked on possession of a firearm.
Anita Barthelemy said the boys arrested were two of her son's best friends. She said their parents were too distraught and upset to talk with her.
"It's just a tragedy all around," Barthelemy said.
Zion was getting ready to graduate from the fifth grade at Greenbrier Elementary School. His mom said that he often hung out in the apartment complex with his friends, swimming in the pool or playing football. They had lived there for six years.
Across the apartment complex, a 12-year-old boy who was close friends with Zion stood at the foot of the staircase Saturday in the breezeway where Zion had been shot. The boy stood under a bullet mark in the wall and said he came there because he was thinking about his friend.
"He never really did anything to nobody," said the boy, who declined to give his name. "He used to always make people happy when they were sad. He was just a great mood changer. He never was the type of person to play with a gun. I never thought this would happen to him."
Zion's friend described him as being generous, a description that others who knew him were quick to echo.
Eric Hill, who sat with Zion's friend on the steps, said he used to give Zion snacks in exchange for his help doing yard work at his apartment, which was close to where the teen was shot. Hill said Zion would always share those snacks with his friends, even though he had worked for them.
Aside from Hill and the little boy, the apartment complex was quiet Saturday, a sharp change from Friday night when families and many kids hung around the sidewalks.
Hill was home with his grandchildren and wife when he heard the shot. He said he opened his door and saw the boy, wearing red shorts and a white T-shirt, but he was unrecognizable from his injuries.
Deputies focused their investigation on the breezeway of a back building, where two pools of blood could be seen near the bottom of a staircase. A resident said he saw the Sheriff's Office use police dogs to investigate a wooded area at the back of the complex. The neighbor said he was surprised by the shooting at the gated apartments.
"It's quiet except for the noise of kids playing," he said of the gated apartments with a playground and pool in the center.