By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published November 30, 2023
ATLANTA—A granite cross now stands in the parking lot of the Lyke House Newman Center where Jatonne Sterling was fatally shot.
Family and scores of students from Clark Atlanta University gathered at the Catholic center at the Atlanta University Center on Nov. 16 to remember Sterling.
Sterling, a baseball player at Clark Atlanta University, was killed in the parking on Feb. 28.
On Thursday, his mother, Lori Tucker, said to the crowd, “I cannot change what has happened. Instead of feeling sad, I feel supported and loved.”
The cross displays the image of the 20-year-old.
Father Urey Mark, the center director, said he wanted to erect the monument for the student since his tragic passing because he wanted to recognize the dignity and sacredness of Sterling’s young life.
The memorial “will not only honor the memory of (Sterling) but also provide solace and support for his family, for his friends and the students of the AUC and our entire AUC academic community.”
In 2023, there have been 116 fatal shootings in the city of Atlanta, according to police statistics.
Authorities arrested Keontay Holliman-Peoples on several charges connected to Sterling’s shooting, including felony murder and aggravated assault, police said.
Father Mark said that life is precious, and the community must foster an environment where students and others do not fall victim to violence.
“Let it be a symbol of hope and a reminder that each life, no matter how short, has the power to leave an indelible mark on the world,” he said to the crowd.
Dr. George T. French Jr., president of Clark Atlanta University, stood by the family during the ceremony. He called the parking lot a “holy place.”
French said friends of Sterling should continue to keep his family in their prayers.
“Time heals wounds, but sometimes it takes a lot of time, so continue to pray for them, continue to lift them up,” he said.
French announced Sterling’s mother recently enrolled at the university to pursue a degree in social work to honor his memory.
At the same time, the Archdiocese of Atlanta has upgraded security features around the property, installing gates and a fence. John Schiavone, director of real estate development for the archdiocese, said the purpose of the gates is to keep students safe while at the Lyke House but never to serve as a barrier to participate in its events.