Teresa Foster says she is waiting for closure.
Right now, she and her husband will settle for their grandson’s high school diploma and the “love and respect” the boy’s high school has shown him since his murder in front of their Covington home more than a year and a half ago.
Mrs. Foster is the grandmother of honors student Quinten Martin who was shot and killed in an October 2018 drive-by shooting at the Fosters’ Greenway Drive home in unincorporated Newton County.
Alcovy High School and the Newton County Board of Education awarded a diploma posthumously to Quinten on Aug. 1.
Principal Kristopher Williams gave the diploma to Mrs. Foster and husband, Roddrick, during the school’s in-person graduation ceremony for 2020 graduates at Sharp Stadium in Covington.
“We were just trying to uplift the family,” said Williams, who was an assistant principal at Alcovy when the incident occurred.
“It was just the right thing to do,” he said.
The Fosters had raised Quinten and his two siblings since the death of their mother in 2008.
“He was really a good kid,” Mrs. Foster said. “He was a good student. He had his life together.
“He wanted to be a pilot. All his dreams were cut off because of that. That’s why I was very angry about the situation.”
She said Quinten planned to enlist in the Air Force to earn money for the required schooling. The Fosters also were going to find a way to pay for him to attend an aviation camp, she said.
After the murder on Oct. 25, 2018, sheriff’s investigators said they believed the shooters thought Quinten was someone else and had followed him home from his shift at Zaxby’s, where he was working to save money for college.
The boy reportedly had accepted a ride home from an assistant manager and was ambushed as he got out of the vehicle. The assistant manager also was injured by gunfire.
Amber Bennett Dally, deputy chief assistant district attorney for Newton County, said her office has identified suspects in the murder "and continue to investigate the case currently."
She said the incident was tied to an armed robbery that occurred the day before Quinten’s death.
"The state has successfully prosecuted and convicted two of the individuals involved in the robbery and the third suspect involved in the robbery was recently arrested on his outstanding warrant," Dally said.
The DA's office continues to work with the Newton County Sheriff’s Office to investigate the case, she said.
"We meet regularly with the agents assigned to said investigation and continue to review evidence and follow all leads," Dally said.
She added she could not give more information about the case because it remained an ongoing investigation.
Mrs. Foster praised the two “awesome” sheriff’s office detectives who investigated the case.
She said she believed they had trouble investigating soon after the incident because the boy had never been in trouble with the law or involved with outside influences such as gangs.
Mrs. Foster said she and her husband were driving home when the incident occurred. Quinten’s siblings, Rashea and Kortez, were home when it happened.
She said she is looking to move from the Greenway Drive home because of the memories it conjures.
“He got murdered right in front of the house. We walk outside and that’s all we see. You can’t have closure — I probably won’t ever have closure — because of where he got murdered at.”
Unfortunately, it was not the first time Quinten had experienced such violence in his young life.
The Fosters had raised the boy and his two siblings since their mother’s death just after Thanksgiving in 2008.
The children lived with their mother, Dominique, in an apartment in Clarkston. A mentally ill neighbor, aggravated by what he believed was noise from the apartment, broke in and stabbed the mother and their other grandmother, Ursula, to death.
Quinten was age 8 and had watched it happen, Mrs. Foster said.
“She died in his arms,” she said.
As a result, the boy was very protective of his two siblings, she said.
Sandra Owens, who was Alcovy’s principal at the time of Quinten’s death, said she believed the tragedy “motivated him” to focus on his future and work to become an honors student.
The Fosters obviously provided a “good support system” to Quinten and his two siblings, Owens said.
“Usually, children of trauma have a hard time,” she said.
Mrs. Foster said school and Newton County School District officials had “stayed in touch” with her since the incident.
School administrators arranged to give them Quinten’s DECA Club jacket and his photo in a framed display case. They sent the Fosters a school yearbook and a sign for their yard announcing Quinten was a 2020 Alcovy graduate.
Students and teachers contributed for the boy’s funeral expenses, and organized a prayer vigil and a special ceremony for him in the school’s gym.
Administrators arranged to give the Fosters one of his school desks that had been covered with tributes students and teachers gave to the teen after the incident, Mrs. Foster said.
Quinten was added to the school’s “Angel Wall,” which honors those close to the school who have passed on. One teacher even paid tribute to the teen by paying for a billboard along I-20 that thousands saw daily, she said.
“They showed a lot of love and respect for Quinten,” Mrs. Foster said.
Owens visited Mrs. Foster at her home after the incident.
“I just hated it that it was during this time that I got to meet her,” said Owens, who was Alcovy’s principal from 2013 to 2019.
She said Quinten was a “wonderful young man” who “always had a smile on his face.”
The teen was “doing everything right to get to that path” which would lead to being a successful pilot, she said.
“For him at that young age to have that plan … he never wavered from it,” Owens said. “He was such an inspiration to our staff after what he had gone through.”
She said many staff members at the school took Quinten’s death personally.
“It changed the tone (at the school) for the rest of the year,” said Owens, who retired after the school year ended.
“We believed we were one big family,” Owens said. “It affected us all. It still bothers me today.”
“I pray all the time they find the people who did this,” she said.