Sixteen-year-old Andrew Messina died from a single shot fired by a sheriff’s deputy after the troubled youth threatened suicide, held his mom at gunpoint and attempted to set fire to their home.
Funeral services are set for the youth on Monday at 4 p.m. at Hillside United Methodist Church. Visitation is Sunday from 5 to 9 p.m. at Woodstock Funeral Home Chapel.
Members of the community have continued to weigh in on the tragic event while those close to Andrew and deputies with the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office who were on the scene attempt to deal with the aftermath.
Sheriff Roger Garrison said Friday he met with the Messinas the previous day to discuss the events that led a sniper to shoot the Etowah High School sophomore after an hour-long standoff with negotiators at his home in the Eagle Watch subdivision.
“I mostly listened to the father and (both of) their concerns,” Garrison said. “I was able to explain some of the reasons we did the things we did.”
In the midst of an argument with his mother around 6 p.m. Tuesday, the boy wearing a John Lennon T-shirt and blue nylon shorts grabbed his father’s .357 Magnum and began threatening to harm himself and his mother, according to 911 tapes.
Based on information provided to authorities by his mother, the teen was on a combination of medications for depression and had been drinking alcohol.
Just over an hour after Andrew’s mother called 911, authorities say the teen broke a glass window pane in the front door and pointed the gun toward sheriff’s deputies which led a sniper to take a single, fatal shot to the boy’s abdomen. He later died at WellStar Kennestone Hospital in Marietta.
Garrison said his Wednesday meeting with the Messinas was emotional, as he tried to provide the grieving parents answers to difficult questions surrounding the incident.
“(The father) was able to get things off his chest,” Garrison said. “They lost a child. I spoke to tell them that if the situation were reversed, I would most likely feel exactly the way they feel.”
Yet Garrison said he felt the meeting was positive because it opened the lines of communication and he was able to let the parents know that everyone in the department wished for a different outcome.
“It was no outcome we would ever hope for,” he said. “Our negotiators worked feverishly, to the very, very best of their abilities to establish rapport with Andrew and it’s just a very tragic situation. There are no winners.”
Garrison said his office will continue to offer counseling to employees.
“This has hit a number of people very hard,” he said. “It’s nothing anybody takes lightly and it’s the most dreaded portion of our jobs. We’re dealing with it the best we can.”
After a few days to reflect, Garrison said there wasn’t anything he would have done differently in the situation, despite the flood of controversy surrounding the case.
He does not anticipate getting any new information regarding the investigation from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for several weeks.
“At some point in time, we will do an after-action report and if there’s anything we feel we need to adjust, we’d certainly be open to adjusting that,” he said.
Obituary information from the family stated that Andrew was a “true artist, vocalist and poet” with a passion for the rights of animals and a defender of his beliefs in humanity.
“(Andrew) was always thinking of others and put his family and friends above his own interests,” the obituary states. “As we look back at his short time on this earth, his passing will leave a void in all of our lives but his memory will always bring a smile and comfort to all.”
Survivors include his parents, Nicholas and Lisa Antonucci Messina of Woodstock; his godparents Richard and Melanie Thompson of Woodstock; three aunts and several cousins.
The family requests instead of flowers donations be made to Our Pals Place at 4508 Canton Road in Marietta. Online condolences may be made at www.woodstockfuneralhome.com.