Deleane Briskey's home had seen violence before the massacre that only her young son would survive. Four times in recent months, police had been called to the single-story house -- twice after fights between Ms. Briskey's boyfriend and her ex-husband. But when police arrived on Monday, they found the bodies of Ms. Briskey, four of her children and her sister.
The sole survivor, 11-year-old Santonio Lucas, told police his mother's boyfriend, Cyrano Marks, dragged him through the house as he killed. Marks then turned the gun on himself, authorities say.
Santonio was doing well Wednesday at Grady Memorial Hospital, said his uncle, Dwight Lucas. The boy was scheduled for surgery later Wednesday. "What he's been through, he's pretty strong," the uncle said. Dr. Toni McLaurin said doctors hope that after Santonio undergoes surgery early next week he will soon be able to move the elbow again. But she said the boy will have to compensate if he ever plays sports.
"It will never be a normal elbow, but we should be able to restore function," the physician said.
Dwight Lucas said Santonio and his 10-year-old sister, Jalisa, who wasn't home at the time of the shootings, will live with their father, David Lucas. Mayor Bill Campbell visited Santonio at the hospital this morning. "I just tried to reassure him that we care about him," Campbell said. Santonio told police Marks was angry that she wanted to end their relationship.
He said Cyrano Marks, 39, herded Ms. Briskey, her sister and four children into the master bedroom, but the family scattered when he brandished a pistol. "They all tried to run, but none were able to escape the house," said Deputy Chief C.B. Jackson. Marks then dragged Santonio with him from room to room as he shot the family.
Santonio said he managed to break free and run into a closet. Marks found him, placed a pillow in front of the boy's face and pulled the trigger. The weapon jammed. Marks stepped back, fiddled with the gun and fired again. The bullet smashed through the boy's elbow.
Santonio fell to the ground and played dead. Moments later, he heard another shot. Cyrano Marks had turned the gun on himself, but Santonio feared the killer was still alive. He huddled in a closet for eight hours before running next door to the home of Eugene Broadus.
Broadus heard the shots at 6:45 a.m., but assumed they were firecrackers. He was gone when Santonio knocked on his door around 2:30 p.m. His wife told him what happened.
"He said, `Would you help me? My stepdaddy just killed my mom, my auntie and all my family,"' Broadus said. "He was just sucking his thumb the whole time."
Marks' sister, Sharon Leon, apologized for her brother's actions. "I can't imagine him taking the life of innocent kids," she told WSB-TV. "I just can't explain it .... I just want the families of the victims to know that I apologize on behalf of my family."
In addition to Briskey, the victims were: Craig DeCarlo Briskey, 15; Tasha Briskey, 16; David Antonio Lucas Jr., 13; and Antuan Lucas, 9. Also killed was Essie Jo Hugley, 37, Briskey's sister who had just moved in a few months before.