When Love & Hip Hop Atlanta Season 7 premieres on March 19, we might get more details on one of the biggest tragedies to beset the VH1 franchise: The August 2017 death of Rod “Shooter” Gates’ son Rod Jr. His death was widely reported to be the result of a car accident, but in reality, the 20-year-old was shot.
According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Rodricous Gates Jr. was shot on Aug. 6, 2017, outside an apartment complex in Morrow, GA, a city 13 miles south of Atlanta. Rod Jr.’s family told Channel 2 Action News they had no idea why anyone would kill the former high school football star. “Everybody loved this child,” said Phillip Gillis, his stepfather.
Rod Jr.’s mother, Erica Gillis, wanted the killer to come forward. “Just turn yourself in,” she told Channel 2. “That’s all I ask for.”
Immediately following the murder, both Shooter and Sierra posted mournful messages on Instagram. “I been through a lot in my life, but I think this is the hardest s–t ever,” Rod wrote, in part. “A parent is never supposed to bury his child.”
And Sierra had a message for anyone bearing firearms in violence: “Dear shooters, before you pull that trigger, just know you are taking someone’s child. Brother. Best friend. Uncle. Dad. The list goes on. My [sons’ and daughters’] big brother is gone, and I have to explain to them why.”
A month later, however, came a big development in the case, as The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Police charged 26-year-old Marcus Fraser with murder, aggravated assault, criminal attempt to distribute marijuana, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, believing him to be the person who argued with and ultimately killed Rod Jr. at the apartment complex that day. They also charged a woman named Shantavier Willis with making false statements to police after she allegedly told police a fake name when they asked her to identify the suspect, who was seen leaving her apartment the same day. By the time those charges came down, Fraser had turned himself in on a different arrest warrant, so perhaps justice will be served at last.
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