RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - Hurricane Katrina was one of the worst natural disasters in American history and it caused Roslyn Phillips to flee New Orleans for Richmond.
And in the very city she sought refuge, she lost two of her most prized possessions: her sons Ahkeem and Ahmad, gunned down in the hallway of a Manchester apartment building just over a month ago, after asking a neighbor to clean up after his dog.
“As we gather here today, we ask that God gather Ahkeem and Ahmad to himself," said Rev. Daniel O. Grady of St. Michael’s Catholic Church.
Phillips wiped away tears Monday night, testimony to her worst month any mother could have, knowing there will only be more pain in the months and years to come.
“It's a void that can never be filled,” Phillips said. “They don't know how much impact this has had on my family, on my father, on Ahkeem's children. They had nieces and nephews that looked up to them."
Ahkeem and Ahmad were shot to death in a hallway at the Tobacco Loft apartments on April 17. Police tell us the motive was an argument over dog waste, adding the Phillips brothers simply asked a neighbor to pick up his dog’s droppings.
“When the word came it was over a puppy, it broke her heart," said Marybeth Meacham, a St. Michael’s parishioner who helped relocate Phillips’ family.
Ahkeem was serving in the Navy and had always told his mother that come Hell or high water he wanted them all out of the St. Bernard Parish in New Orleans. Katrina delivered both and soon thereafter, their family became well-known at St. Michael’s in the West End.
"Roslyn and her boys were a family our parish helped re-settle,” said Meacham. “We help them start their lives over again."
And their lives were on track for a happy ending. Ahkeem, honorably discharged from the Navy, was married with two boys and was finishing nursing school. Ahmad was steadily working his way through school and a full-time job. All of that was taken away in a flash.
As a familiar New Orleans spiritual played in the church sanctuary, Phillips said this awful ending means two saints came marching home long before their time.
She resigned from her job Monday, saying with her two sons buried in New Orleans earlier this month, it was time to be closer to them.