MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Ten-year-old Jamari Tillman was able to clap along and bounce to the gospel music Sunday, despite the bullet still in his leg that causes him pain and to walk with a limp. Jamari was to be baptized, washed in the blood, at the Faith Community Baptist Church.
When we first met him, it was in a hospital bed, dealing with blood of a different sort.
“Well, my left leg hurts real bad, but at least I can walk,” the ever upbeat child told CBS4 at Jackson Memorial Hospital June 5th. Two days earlier the child took a slug in his leg at the Liberty Square Park, when three hooligans opened fire on a crowded basketball court. Jamari happened to be riding by on his bike.
The sounds were real loud and when they were done shooting they ran,” Jamari recalled at the hospital.
Jamari’s mom, Tiffany Fair, called it one of the scariest moments of a mother’s life.
“It was chaos. I thought it was fire crackers. All I was thinking about was my kids,” Fair said at the time.
For jamari there have been weeks of physical therapy, and lots more to come. As he came to be baptized Sunday, his mother said life has been tough on the little boy of late.
“It’s been kind of bumpy. You know we’ve been going to therapy. The first time, he started crying, but it’s getting better. We’re working on it,” Jamari’s mother said.
Police captured one of the three alleged gunmen, 23 year-old Alfonso Rivera who they say was trying to shoot a rival, but whose indiscriminate fire hit the little boy instead.
“I feel good,” Jamari said Sunday, wearing his white, baptismal gown.
His mother was glad for him.
“It’s a blessing that he still has that little child’s spirit in him,” she said.
And then, Rev. Richard Dunn invoked the spirit of the Lord.
“We now baptize him in the name of the Father,” declared Dunn to a delighted congregation.
As Jamari was about to be baptized, he explained the theology in the way a child would. Why was he being baptized, he was asked.
“So that part of God can get inside me,” he replied in a soft, reverent voice.
And so it came to pass.
“And let the church say ‘Amen!'” shouted the preacher, as he lay the boy into the baptismal water. None in the church doubted the Lord guided the bullet that did not kill the boy that early June night in the park.
Jamari remains precocious, dancing a little jig Sunday, at a ceremony that Christians believe leaves him with the promise of eternal life.
While police have one of his alleged assailants in custody, two remain on the loose. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS.