Friends and loved ones gathered at a home on Daisy Lane in Conway on Thursday afternoon to lend support to the family of a 2-year-old boy who died on Christmas Day.
The boy’s father, Rondell Smith, paced in circles in front of his mother-in-law’s home, tears streaming down his face, saying over and over, “My son is gone. My son is gone.”
He was inconsolable by family.
“I can’t sleep. I can’t eat. I miss his voice. I hear him calling me. I held him close,” Smith said. “Why couldn’t it be me?”
Nearly 48 hours prior, 2-year-old Sincere Smith got hold of his father’s gun that was sitting on a table and shot himself. He died en route to Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. A senseless accident, the boy’s family said.
“That’s my daughter’s husband. They said ’til death do us part. I have to support her,” Smith’s mother-in-law Sheila Gaskin said. “If I was someone else, I would probably hate him. But I understand. It was a senseless accident. I can’t hate him. That’s not God’s way.”
Sincere, who would have turned 3 in March, is remembered as a good big brother who was protective of his 9-month-old sister Samiya and loved McDonald’s french fries and Nick Jr. – especially “Jack’s Big Music Show.”
“He would sing and dance. He sang every song. He knew every song,” said LaKisha Brown Smith, Sincere’s mother. “He was very smart. He knew all of his colors and he knew how to count forwards and backwards.”
Gaskin said he was a “McDonald’s” baby and refused to eat fries from anywhere else. Every time she thinks of him she said she can see him in her mind, standing in her doorway, opening and closing his big hands saying, “I want fries.”
“He didn’t understand [McDonald’s was] closed on Christmas,” she said.
Sincere adored his father, Brown Smith said. She said it’s been painful to know the things people have said about her husband since he was arrested Wednesday.
“If they just knew him and his kids. [Rondell] eats, breathes and sleeps his kids,” Brown Smith said. “My husband changed every diaper and made every bottle. He did everything for his kids.”
Smith said he knows that the public has judged him harshly and assumed things about him because of the way he looks.
“People look at my hair and think they know me. That doesn’t define me,” he said.
Smith, 30, was arrested and charged with involuntary manslaughter and released from jail Wednesday on a $500 bond. He said no punishment by the law would suffice.
“Going to jail ain’t even enough,” he said. “Whatever’s coming to me is coming to me.”
Tears steadily ran down Smith’s face as he recalled the day his son died. About two weeks ago, Smith said someone tried to break into his home while he and his family were there. He said he felt like he was nothing because we wouldn’t have been able to protect his family. So he got a gun.
Brown Smith left for work around 6 p.m. and Smith called her shortly after she left.
“The phone went straight to voicemail. By the time I stopped calling and turned around, he’d killed both of us,” he said of the gun going off in Sincere’s hands.
Gaskin said she hopes the family will be able to hold Sincere’s memorial service on Monday at Mason Temple in Conway, but she had to special order a casket small enough to hold him.
“I got his outfit today,” she said on Thursday. “It’s an all-white suit.”