When Love & Hip Hop Atlanta Season 7 premieres on March 19, we might get more details on one of the biggest tragedies to beset the VH1 franchise: The August 2017 death of Rod "Shooter" Gates' son Rod Jr. His death was widely reported to be the result of a car accident, but in reality, the 20-year-old was shot.
According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Rodricous Gates Jr. was shot on Aug. 6, 2017, outside an apartment complex in Morrow, GA, a city 13 miles south of Atlanta. Rod Jr.'s family told Channel 2 Action News they had no idea why anyone would kill the former high school football star. "Everybody loved this child," said Phillip Gillis, his stepfather.
Rod Jr.'s mother, Erica Gillis, wanted the killer to come forward. "Just turn yourself in," she told Channel 2. "That's all I ask for."
Immediately following the murder, both Shooter and Sierra posted mournful messages on Instagram. "I been through a lot in my life, but I think this is the hardest s–t ever," Rod wrote, in part. "A parent is never supposed to bury his child."
And Sierra had a message for anyone bearing firearms in violence: "Dear shooters, before you pull that trigger, just know you are taking someone's child. Brother. Best friend. Uncle. Dad. The list goes on. My [sons' and daughters'] big brother is gone, and I have to explain to them why."
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SO LOST FOR WORDS THE ONLY THING THATS KEEPING ME SANE IS I KNOW THE GOOD LORD DONT MAKE NO MISTAKES MY SON CALLED ME YESTERDAY AND SAID A DAD I SEEN YOU AND MY BROTHERS AT MAIN EVENT I SAID YEA COME ON OUT HERE WITH US. HE SAID NO TODAY DAD WE HAVING A PARTY AT MY SPOT. I SAID OK SON BE SAFE HIT ME LATER HE SAID OK I NEVER GOT THE CHANCE TO SAY I LOVE YOU AGAIN. IN OTHER WORDS TELL YOUR LOVE ONES YOU LOVED THEM EVERYDAY CAUSE YOU NEVER KNOW WHEN THE GOOD LORD IS GOING TO CALLED THEM HOME. I BEEN THROUGH ALOT IN MY LIFE BUT I THINK THIS IS THE HARDEST SHIT EVER. A PARENT IS NEVER SUPPOSED TO BURY HIS CHILD A CHILD SUPPOSED TO BURY HIS PARENTS. I HAVE TO BE STRONG FOR YOUR BROTHERS AND SISTER I DONT KNOW HOW TO EXPLAIN THIS TO THEM SINCE YOU WAS THEY ROLE MODEL. THEY GO ON YOUR INSTAGRAM PAGE EVERYDAY AND CHECK ON THEY BROTHER AND THEY TELL ME EVERYTHING YOU DOING EACH AND EVERY DAY. BY THE WAY GRANDAD FINALLY GOT YOU BACK WITH HIM TELL MY FATHER I SAID WHATS UP DADDY GOTS TO BE STRONG FOR THE REST OF THE FAMILY I NEVER THOUGHT I WOULD BE SAYING THIS BUT FLY HIGH BABY BOY NO MATTER HOW BIG UOU GOT YOU STILL WAS DADDY BABY LOVE YOU INFINITY @rodhighdemand
A month later, however, came a big development in the case, as The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Police charged 26-year-old Marcus Fraser with murder, aggravated assault, criminal attempt to distribute marijuana, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, believing him to be the person who argued with and ultimately killed Rod Jr. at the apartment complex that day. They also charged a woman named Shantavier Willis with making false statements to police after she allegedly told police a fake name when they asked her to identify the suspect, who was seen leaving her apartment the same day. By the time those charges came down, Fraser had turned himself in on a different arrest warrant, so perhaps justice will be served at last.