Mother forgives man suspected of fatally shooting her son

In a remarkable act of grace, the mother of a church deacon who was fatally shot in Berkeley Tuesday night told KTVU she has already forgiven the man police have arrested for her son's death.

Family members identified the victim killed in the Berkeley shooting as 24-year-old Christian Hunter-Sheppard of Berkeley.

Hunter-Sheppard was shot at around 8:30 p.m. on the 1600 block of Russell Street in Berkeley. Police arrested 24-year-old Anthony Durant on suspicion of murder.

Hunter-Sheppard’s mother, Wanda Hunter, said she is at peace with her son’s death.

 “Christian is at home,” she said. “Christian is okay. He’s out of danger. He won’t have no more pain, no more worries. He’s free.”

Hunter spoke to KTVU inside True Faith Baptist Church in Oakland. She said her son was a deacon at church.

 “Like anybody else he had his downfalls, his troubles. But he raised up,” she said. “He got back on track.”

Dr. James A. Long Jr., Pastor of True Faith Baptist Church, plans to talk to his congregation about the murder on Sunday and said he hoped something positive can come from the tragedy.

 “There’s no one on this planet that’s perfect,” Long said. “He faced his challenges. He dealt with them. It’s really tragic it ended this way.”

Hunter-Sheppard was a produce delivery driver who was engaged to be married. He leaves behind two daughters: a 5-year-old little girl and a 5-month-old baby.

Officer Byron White with the Berkeley Police Department said detectives have not released a motive.

 “We believe that the suspect and the victim were acquainted and there are no outstanding suspects that we know of,” White said.

Durant, the suspected gunman, is the same man who was arrested in June 2014 in connection with a shooting on the same street that sent two men to the hospital.

Hunter said she knows Durant and told KTVU that he was a childhood friend of her son's. She added that she does not hold any hate toward him.

 “I forgive him and he hopefully needs to know that,” she added. “I love Anthony, that’s not going to change.”

Hunter said her son is a better place and she knows she will see him again.