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Mother of shooting victim finds strength to endure

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (BP)–It’s the message no mother wants to hear. But when Candice Hoskins checked her answering machine that Friday in December 1995 — just an hour after her 23-year-old son Billy and a friend had gone out for the evening — there it was: “Candy, Candy, there has been an accident … .”
Hoskins went to the emergency room at University of California, Davis, Hospital, and told personnel, “I am looking for my son, Billy. He was in a car accident.”
What she heard next was the sound of a helicopter landing, and then emergency medical personnel saying, “Ma’am, we’ve got to come through.”
“I was standing there as they brought this man in on a stretcher,” Hoskins said. “He had no shirt on. He had a small hole in his chest. I was still thinking car accident when I realized, this is my son. I yelled out to him. He didn’t answer me. I screamed out: ‘Billy!’ He was just lying there so peacefully.
“They took me into another room. Billy had been shot four times, twice in the heart. ‘Shot?’ I screamed. ‘Something is all wrong here.’
“I asked someone to call my pastor. I knew he would be there for me.”
Her pastor and a deacon came and prayed with her. Only a week before, Hoskins had stopped in at 14th Avenue Baptist Church. The members welcomed her as a first-time guest. She said she immediately felt at home.
“I cannot tell you the peace I felt there. The pastor was so down to earth. It was a family atmosphere with 90 to 100 people.”
Those relationships have helped sustain her and her family in the wake of the violent death and an aftermath of court hearings and preparation for an upcoming trial.
“If I weren’t a Christian, I don’t know what I would have done,” Hoskins said. “In the flesh, we think of taking revenge, doing things that are not right to do. I have to let go of it and say, ‘Lord, this is in your hands.’ I pray for the young man who killed my son. I pray for his family.”
Hoskins has two younger children, Melissa, 17, and Mark, 13. They are each dealing with loss in different ways. Melissa is meeting with a counselor. Mark talks about it with his mom.
Hoskins said it helped her to write about her feelings. For awhile, she had to put Billy’s pictures away.
“Shortly after my son died, a 15-year-old boy was shot. They haven’t found his killer. His mother goes to our church some. When she called me, we cried together.
“I miss my son very much,” Hoskins said. “I cry for my son all the time. But we have to go forward. God is giving me wisdom and strength and courage.”
For years, Hoskins had gone from church to church seeking the truth.
“I can almost feel God reaching out and showing me the path,” she said. “I have a lot to learn. But I know, he will never leave me. And I will never leave him now.”

    About the Author

  • Celeste Pennington