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I knew I was going to miss him

When I met him, one of the first things that struck me was his beard. Demetrius had a long beard that reminded me of sculptures I’d seen of ancient Assyrian kings. I marveled at how it could be so long and stand out so proudly from his chin.

Demetrius was quick to welcome me to my new place of work — an in-company transfer from one location to another — and was always very helpful if I needed to find anything.

He stood well over 6 feet tall, had close-cropped hair, dark skin, bright eyes and a huge smile.

Co-workers liked him. Customers liked him. Everyone liked him, it seemed.

When he shaved his beard — “It was time for it to go,” he said — I was surprised, but he looked much younger. He looked his age, somewhere in his early 30s.

That job was one where I felt like most of the people with whom I worked were family. I really liked working with them, and I miss a lot of them, still. Demetrius was certainly one of those I knew I was going to miss when I shook his hand and said goodbye.

But I didn’t get to tell him goodbye last Saturday. I don’t know if anyone did.

Police in Alexandria, Louisiana, received a call about an auto accident, but what they found when they arrived was a single vehicle, and the body of a young man sitting behind the wheel. He had been shot multiple times, and was pronounced dead at the hospital.

It was Demetrius.

I found out today, when I saw a social media post from another former co-worker.

He lived in a rough part of town and that’s where he died, not far from his house. As I write this, police say they do not know who did this, nor do they have leads as to why this murder occurred.

People speculate, like they always do.

Some people assume victims are always innocent and others assume victims are always guilty of something.

Sometimes victims are in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I don’t claim to know everything about Demetrius. His mother and father talked about what a wonderful, caring son he was.

His sister loved him dearly.

His brother said they did everything together.

His family is going to miss their son, brother, uncle …

His friends and co-workers will miss his friendship and attitude.

I don’t know who killed Demetrius Carter and I don’t know why. But he made a positive impact on my life just by being himself.

Bad things happen.

In general, they happen because we live in a world that has been severly damaged by sin. It has been beaten and abused by humans for as long as we’ve been around. Society is to blame, and we are all part of society.

Specifically, bad things happen because people tend to make bad choices. That’s not why tornadoes come or snakes bite, but it is why people get addicted to meth, rob others, assault people or shoot someone multiple times in their car on Lee Street in Alexandria.

This world will only get better when the people in it live better lives. We’re not capable of it without Jesus in our lives. That’s my experience, and that’s what the Bible tells anyone who’ll read it.

Demetrius and I talked about church and God a couple of times that I recall. I pray that Demetrius knew Jesus as his savior.

I’m praying for his family as they try to make some kind of sense out of this senseless act.

I’m praying for me to be a better person than I could be or have been.

I’m praying for you to be encouraged or moved to do the same.

I’m sorry I didn’t get to tell you goodbye, Demetrius, but I hope to one day be able to say hello again.

And to the person who sent me a handwritten letter in response to last week’s column on mental health, you don’t know how you brightened my day with your thoughts. You know who you are. And no matter what you think, you are brave.

News editor Brett Campbell can be reached at 601-265-5307 or brett.campbell@dailyleader.com.