SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - As the Savannah-Chatham Metro Police Department investigates Savannah's latest homicide, parents and friends are remembering the 15-year-old football player killed Saturday.
A trip to McDonald's turned deadly for George Akins Jr.
"George was an awesome child," Carrie Harris, president of the Windsor Forest Football booster club, said. "He was very well-mannered, IB student, honor roll student, very respectful. He was doing everything right. George actually was in the right place because he was supposed to be at the movies. And after the movies, his parents knew he was going to McDonald's to get something to eat, so as a child, he had that right. But unfortunately, they took away one of the best kids."
Harris said the football team is made of 74 brothers who are now dealing with the loss of one of their own and praying for the healing of another. She said the other 15-year-old boy shot Saturday has a collapsed lung.
She said Akins was an outstanding student and person, which makes his death that much harder.
"These boys weren't bad boys" Harris said. "They were very good, good boys. Well raised boys, and I can show you 73 more who care about others, who care about themselves."
The Chatham County District Attorney's office said Akins was not involved in any of its programs for at-risk youth.
Flowers now sit outside of Windsor Forest High School, and some students had their faces painted Monday with Akins' number and LLG for "Long Live George."
"George is, like, the last person you think would die, so it was just crazy," Lauran Smoak, a sophomore at Windsor Forest, said. "We got here, all of us were together, and the announcements, it kind of like hit us all at once. Everybody was there for each other, taking care of everybody who was crying and just making sure nobody was in the wrong state of mind."
Savannah Hayden, a junior at Windsor Forest. said she'll remember his charisma.
"He was the nicest, most energetic person," said "He never talked bad about anyone. He was basically everyone's friend. He was a ball of energy, really. I've known George since middle school, and he's always been the person who would check up on me, even if we didn't see each other throughout the day. He would still hit me up from time to time, and say, 'Hey, is everything OK? How's it going?' It's just a loss of his energy in the school. Everyone's just down."
Junior Leslie Oliva shared a class with Akins' and said not seeing him there Monday was hard.
"Not seeing him was pretty devastating because he was just really funny," she said. "Him not being there just made all of us really upset."
Smoak said he liked to make jokes, and said she'll miss those small things the most.
"he wasn't as tall as everybody else, but he still liked to make short jokes," she said. "He'd be like, 'He shorty, you cant even reach my high five,' or something like that. I'm going to miss that. Other people will do it, but it was different because it was George."
Windsor Forest parent Maurice Irving said he often took Akins and his brother home from summer football practices, and he said he cut the other 15-year-old's hair on Saturday.
"For me to know these guys personally and was personally involved in their lives, I was numb," he said.
Irving said losing someone like Akins to youth gun violence means it's time for a bigger conversation about the problem and for those with information to come forward.
"The word is snitches bring stitches, but it's timeout for that," Irving said. "It's time to save lives because we know information, and we need to give out that information. We say black lives matter. Why don't' we protect our own? And why don't we start telling on those that are not doing the right things? That's how I feel as a parent."
Harris said, "For you to stand by someone and allow them to take someone else's life, karma is real, and I don't want [any] parents to go through that."
Harris said the team was given the choice to practice or go home on Monday, and they chose practice.
"They refused to not," she said. "they refused to not because George wouldn't have wanted them to."
Harris said she and the other booster parents try to foster a supportive, loving environment for those on the team, so they know they have a place where they belong.
"Our kids are going out in these streets looking for love," she said. "That's what they're looking for. They're not out here just to be out here. They're not getting the love that they need, so they're looking for it. And they're finding it in the wrong places. And this is what's happening. We refuse to allow evil to win. We refuse to, and so we're going to keep pushing. We're going to keep getting these boys involved. "
Akins' friends said the school is hosting a balloon release on Friday in Akins' memory.