The parents of a suicidal boy shot by a sniper say they never would have called the police if they had known authorities would bring in “an army” with a tank and riot shields to take down their 16 year old.
Lisa and Nick Messina spoke out for the first time this week on the May 1 shooting, offering the media a side of the story son Andrew didn’t live to tell.
On the day he was shot in his family’s suburban Atlanta home, the boy—called a pacifist by some—was upset over a bad grade at school.
“He just got sad and kind of down on himself and talked about running away,” Nick told a local CBS affiliate. “And that discussion turned to ending his life. And I wasn’t home.”
Things happened fast after that discussion. Andrew went upstairs, returning with a .357 Magnum in one hand, bullets in the other.
It was at that point that his mother called 911.
Operators told her she should leave the home and that they did not know how many squad cars would be coming to their house.
So it came as a surprise when a huge group of officers arrived after the call.
“They brought an army to take out a 16-year-old boy. To kill a 16-year-old boy,” Andrew’s father said.
As the police waited outside, Andrew recorded a dramatic video of himself drinking, pacing around the front room of the house and speaking to his father.
“I do know personally I really don’t want to live. So you should just let this happen if you really love me,” Andrew can be heard saying to his father.
Andrew’s video also records his phone conversation with negotiators, in which he tells police he is merely angry and that he wanted to speak with his father.
In the minutes before their son’s death, Nick and Lisa watched as sniper Jason Yarbrough walked past them in camouflage, the rifle he would use to shoot their son slung over his shoulder.
Cherokee County Sheriff Roger Garrison maintains that the shooting was necessary, that Andrew was violent and that if they had not taken serious action, the boy would have killed someone on his police team.
Months later, Lisa says she wishes that team had never been called in the first place.
“That’s the one thing I would have done different today. I would not have called 911,” she said.