[UPDATE] Gadsden County, Florida- August 15, 2012- 11:52pm
As they shout, "Ain't no stopping until we get justice for Anthony Hopkins," a group of family and friends are determined to use their pain and their voices to try to end violence in their community.
Twenty-three year old Anthony Hopkins was shot several times at a party, held at the Gadsden County Senior Center. This happened in the early morning hours of August 4th. Shortly after, sheriff's deputies say the accused shooter, Omar Mercer, surrendered and told them he shot Hopkins when they got into a fight.
"The Hopkins family will never see him again, hear his voice again, talk to him again, hold him again, hug him again," said Yvonne McMillan, one of Hopkins cousins.
The family now wants to turn its loss into a message, as they stand and chant on a corner near the Gadsden County Courthouse.
"What we're trying to do is tell everyone to put the guns down," said Harold McNeill, a long-time friend of the Hopkins family.
They hope those who drove by them Wednesday evening would take notice of their signs, and their tragedy, and think before acting.
Investigators with the Gadsden County Sheriff's Department say the investigation into Hopkins' death is ongoing even after Mercer's arrest.
"We're working this case as hard as we work any case," said Investigator Ulysses Jenkins.
He said they're still looking for witnesses to help piece together all the details of the night the Hopkins family lost a loved ones. Investigators also urge the family to contact them if they have any questions about the case, or any information that could help.
Mercer has since been charged with homicide and carrying a concealed weapon.
Gadsden County, Florida- August 7, 2012
An arrest report says Anthony Hopkins was found with multiple gunshot wounds on the ground just behind the emergency room in Gadsden County.
Omar Mercer has been charged in the death of 23-year-old Anthony Hopkins.
The Gadsden County Sheriff's Office was called to a shooting at the Gadsden Senior Center.
The hospital is across the street from the senior center.
The hospital was not locked down during the incident.
A copy of the arrest report is attached to this story.
Gadsden County, Florida- August 6, 2012
Stephanie Hopkins got the call no mother ever wants.
"They said he'd been shot," said Hopkins recalling the frantic conversation with a family member.
"I called him and called and he never answered," Hopkins continued.
Hopkins was calling her son, Anthony Hopkins, repeatedly early Saturday morning.
She knew he was going to a party the night before.
Then she heard he'd been shot.
"He was just "Boo"," said Hopkins. "He was never any trouble to me."
Gadsden County investigators found Hopkins shot, but alive near the Gadsden Senior Center in Quincy, which is near the health department and hospital.
The building had been rented out for a private party Friday night.
By 2 a.m. Saturday, it had become a crime scene.
"We got a call around 2 a.m. Saturday that there had been a shooting at a party. When we got there, we found 23-year-old Anthony Hopkins shot several times," said Gadsden County Investigator Ulysses Jenkins.
Hopkins didn't survive.
Omar Mercer was arrested at his Quincy home for the shooting and is charged with homicide and carrying a concealed weapon.
Mercer told investigators that Hopkins got mad when Mercer's family member showed up at the party.
Mercer reported the family member was there because he couldn't find his car keys.
That's when Mercer says Hopkins tried to get a gun from him, and Mercer shot the 23-year-old.
Stephanie Hopkins isn't sure what to believe. She has heard a number of accounts that she says, don't make sense.
Regardless of how it happened, she knows her son is gone.
"I'm not angry with that person, because I know I can't be angry," said Hopkins, "But I'm hurt because my son got shot in the back."
Investigators won't say how the reported problem escalated to gunfire or where exactly on the property the shooting took place.
GCSO won't release the arrest report at this time.
THE FOLLOWING IS A MEDIA RELEASE FROM THE GADSDEN COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE:
Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office responded to early Saturday morning shooting during a party that left one person dead. Omar Ahmed Mercer, a 31year old Quincy native, surrendered to investigators at his Quincy home after he shot and killed 23 year old Anthony Jerome Hopkins, who is also a Quincy native.
Hopkins became upset when Mercer had a family member arrive after Mercer could not locate his car keys. When Hopkins attempted to grab a firearm Mercer shot him several times.
Hopkins was later pronounced dead after being transported to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital.
Sheriff Morris A. Young states, “This is a tragedy that didn’t have to happen. A young life taken during a senseless act is becoming far too common across the United States. This is one of the reasons why we work so hard with our youth to try and deter incidents just like this.”
Investigators are still interviewing witnesses. If you have any information regarding the incident you are asked to contact Inv. Robbie Maxwell at (850) 251-5834.