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Maddox family calls for end to violence after sons shooting death
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Reflecting on the loss of their son at Christmas, Terry and Landa Maddox are calling to “stop the violence” and pleading for people to love another.

“Don’t envy or be jealous of nobody because of what they’ve got,” Terry Maddox said.

T.J. Maddox, 30, was shot multiple times Sept. 9 at Sparkles on Athens Street.

His children, who range in age from 1 to 12, still have a varied understanding of what has happened, the Maddox family said.

“They don’t understand quite fully that he’s not going to come back,” Terry Maddox said.

Jasmine Stephens, who had dated T.J. Maddox for the past four years, said she was drawn to his funny personality and giving nature.

“He was a very kindhearted person, give you the shirt off of his back,” Stephens said.

On the night of the shooting, Stephens said she last saw T.J. Maddox with his son at the barbershop. In a phone call, Maddox’s last words were that he was going to get a cocktail shot at Sparkles and come home.

Minutes later, she got a phone call about the shooting.

“I just dropped everything and ran,” Stephens said, rushing to a chaotic scene on Athens Street.

Darvis Bledson, 33, has been indicted in T.J.’s death. Stephens and the Maddox family said Bledson and T.J. Maddox grew up together. Terry Maddox said Bledson would eat with the family and spend time around all of his children.

Law enforcement searched for Darvis until he was arrested in October. On television, the Maddox family had asked the man to turn himself in.

“I lost a lot of sleep thinking about what he might do or where he might come around,” Terry Maddox said.

When asked what might have caused the shooting, Stephens said she believes people in the community thought T.J. Maddox was somehow responsible for the death of Ricko Bledson, 39, who was shot in August in Flowery Branch. Stephens denied any involvement.

“When we got the phone call that he had got shot, we were together,” Stephens said.

Wherever she goes around town, Stephens said there are tears at the void left by Maddox’s death. After the shooting, she went to a jewelry store to have one of his earrings placed in a ring, which she wears today.

“Everybody in there was crying,” Stephens said. “I’m like, ‘Y’all, I didn’t come in here for this.’ I spent 45 minutes in there, and we just talked about T.J. the whole time.”

His death has taught Stephens how deep an influence one life can have on others in the community, she said.

At the thought of going to trial, Stephens said she was not ready.

“I’m not ready to go through all this over again ... like we’re having to relive everything,” she said.

Knowing he won’t pull up at the house again, Terry Maddox said the family is coping.

“My son didn’t have to die like that,” he said.