ANTIOCH - Thomas Smith Jr. was in the Bay Area from New Orleans visiting his family days before Christmas.
It was a chance for the 16-year-old high school sophomore to catch up with his aunts and cousin. But on Dec. 17, he was shot dead in a park in Antioch.
"This is the worst Christmas I’ve ever had. I wouldn’t wish this on my enemy," the boy's mother, Nakia Banks said in an interview with KTVU. "He was a happy kid. He was a typical teenager. He liked to play games. He was a kid he didn’t deserve that. They have ruined my life forever."
Thomas, whose family called "Paulie" had walked from his aunt's home with his cousin to Williamson Ranch Park around 11:20 that morning.
Banks said she was napping when she heard screams that her son had been shot.
"When I got there, the paramedics [was] working on my son and I started holding his hand, and I started praying with him, and I started helping them work on him, but Paulie was gone," she said.
Police are looking for a dark-colored sedan that was seen leaving the parking lot.
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They believe Thomas and his cousin met with the occupants when the shooting happened. No suspects have been identified or arrested.
"Whoever was in that car that shot my son, my son didn’t know him," Banks said. "My son didn’t do anything. The only thing he did was walk to a park with his cousin. He didn’t deserve that, that was my baby."
Banks described her son as a light-hearted joker who always made her laugh.
He played tuba and was passionate about music and art. He danced and liked anime and video games.
She’s now planning a funeral and working to bring her son’s body back home.
"I’m just so angry. I’m mad. I want justice," Banks said. "I want to see the person locked up. I want anyone who is responsible to be held accountable."
Anyone with information about this case is asked to call Antioch police.
Evan Sernoffsky is an investigative reporter for KTVU. Email Evan at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @EvanSernoffsky.