A story for every victim

'I thought he made it past the danger zone,' mother says of second son killed

It had been 12 years since her son was shot over a tattoo, and by this June, Tanya Summerise-Carter's nightmares were subsiding.

Sirens still raised her pulse, but years after two people were convicted in the case, she had begun to accept that her son, 21-year-old Tyzell Carter, was murdered.

But at a South L.A. Denny's recently, Summerise-Carter bore a defeated look.

On June 25, her sister was on her doorstep with bad news. Marquette Byron Carter, 28 -- Summerise-Carter's second-oldest child -- had been shot to death in the driver's seat of a Hyundai shortly before 11 p.m. the night before. A 21-year-old woman, who was in the passenger seat, had also been killed.

There were a total of 11 gunshot wounds, according to an autopsy report, which noted that Carter had several tattoos. "RIP Tyzell,"  read one.

So far this year, 100 men between the ages of 18 and 25 have been killed in Los Angeles County, according to the most recent data from the Homicide Report. Of those, 26% were black.

The second of six siblings, Marquette Carter had taken over the role of big brother after Tyzell’s death. Immediately after the killing, Marquette was angry, and his mother told him not to listen to the rumors on the streets.

Retaliation is not the key, she taught him. But the killing was stressful, so he stayed with a family member in Lancaster for about six months.

“I feel like my son’s death impacted him a lot,” she said of Marquette. “He just seemed a little lost.”

Marquette was different from his brother. He was left-handed; Tyzell right-handed. Tyzell was more outgoing; Marquette spoke softly. Summerise-Carter said she never had to help Marquette, also an avid basketball player, with his homework.

As the oldest living sibling, he would drive his sisters where they needed to go. He would give his younger brother his old clothes. Sometimes his mother would remind Carter that he didn’t have to say yes to all of the demands of his siblings.

“He was our male figure,” said Tyesha Carter, 23. She said Marquette often gave her advice about life. “He understood me and was patient with me,” she said.

In July, there was another funeral, a “celebration of life” for Marquette.There were numerous calls for peace from pastors, law enforcement and from local activists. Outside the funeral, LAPD officers set up patrols to prevent additional shootings.

Donna Graham, who works with a local group called Girls & Gangs, said violence is not the answer.

“Funeral homes, they’re making so much money right now, it’s a shame,” she said. “Let’s stop killing each other.”

At Denny’s, Summerise-Carter said she keeps in close contact with her remaining children. She especially worries about Arrick, 17, her youngest son, who woke up on his fifth birthday to find that Tyzell had been killed.

As Marquette -- who was born on the Fourth of July -- celebrated each birthday, she felt more relieved.When he made it past 21, she said she was able to breathe.

“I thought he made it past the danger zone,” she said.

This year, she still celebrated what would have been her son's 29th birthday with a barbecue. She bought a chocolate cake with whipped cream and strawberries.

Now, the two brothers are buried about 25 feet away from each other at the Inglewood Cemetery.

“That’s the only good thing that came out of this,” she said. “That they’re finally together again.”

-- Nicole Santa Cruz

Photo: Tanya Summerise-Carter holds photos of her two sons: Tyzell, right, and Marquette. Credit: Nicole Santa Cruz / Los Angeles Times

Post a comment

Before you post, here are some answers to frequently asked questions:

Remember, all posts are approved by a Times staffer. Profanity and personal attacks will not be approved.


33 reader comments