Michael Lash was shot in both legs when he attempted to protect his wife and 6-month-old daughter from four armed teenagers who broke into his home in northwest Atlanta. On Thursday, the 19-year-old ringleader was sentenced to life plus 25 years in prison for the violent home invasion. But Lash, who may never regain feeling in one leg, and his wife said they have forgiven the teens.
Brandon Smith pleaded guilty to several charges including: first-degree home invasion, armed robbery aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, third-degree child cruelty and weapon charges in the Aug. 16 incident, according to the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office.
Prosecutors said Smith and his accomplice, 15-year-old Veshawn Smith, rang the doorbell to the victim’s home on Sumter Street in northwest Atlanta, claiming they have car problems. Lash believed them.
Brandon Smith then motioned to two other accomplices, 15-year-old Quindarius Slade and 16-year-old Trequan Sutton, who were waiting in the bushes, pokeswoman Yvette Jones said. He then turned and pulled a gun on Lash, Jones said.
“Brandon Smith demanded entry into the home, but the victim refused, stating his wife and kids were inside,” Jones said. “Defendant Smith then fired two shots, striking Mr. Lash in each leg.”
Smith then chased and fired several shots at Lash’s wife as she tried to flee with the couple’s 6-month-old baby in her arms. Neither the wife nor child were injured and Smith fled the scene with his accomplices who stole a laptop and other electronics from the home, Jones said. Lash was rushed to the hospital with a shattered femur and severed femoral artery in his left leg, Jones said.
“He survived his injuries, but still suffers from nerve damage in his foot,” Jones said.
Smith was arrested four days later. His co-defendants who were each sentenced to 18 years in prison, prosecutors said.
In the courtroom Thursday, the couple said they have forgiven the four teenagers responsible, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The first of four suspects accused in the shooting, meanwhile, offered no apologies while pleading guilty.
Smith’s attorney said he was under the influence of a variety of drugs the day the then 18-year-old led the three other teenagers to the Lash family home. After growing up in poverty and surrounded by drug use and violence, Smith also began using drugs such as marijuana and cocaine as well as prescription drugs as a child, his attorney said.
Still, the Lashes said Smith and his co-defendants could have run away instead of forcing their way into the family’s home, the AJC reported.