(Orange, Texas)

January 25, 2014

A birthday a mother will never forget

Dawn Burleigh
The Orange Leader

ORANGE — For Shelia Thornton Antoin, her birthday will never bring the same joy it once did in previous years as it will be a reminder of the day she lost her son.

Antoin heard a tapping at her bedroom window just after midnight Thursday morning.

“I thought my son had forgotten his keys,” Antoin said in a phone interview. “It was not my son, it was someone else telling me to come to the door.”

The neighbor hugged Antoin when she opened the front door.

“I asked if he was hurt,” Antoin said as the person hugged her again. “I said ‘My baby is gone?”

Antoin’s son was in the neighbor’s yard and she could see the yellow crime scene tape and her son’s lifeless body under a tarp.

“I just wanted to go to him and hold him,” Antoin said. “That was the morning of my birthday.”

Antoin was prevented from going to her son’s body due to the area quarantined as a crime scene.

Emanuel M. Thornton, 35, was found with multiple gunshot wounds at the 1500 block of Carter Street in Orange according to a press release from the Orange Police Department. A police report states he was deceased due to an apparent gunshot wound to his back.

Justice of the Peace Pct. 4 Rodney Price ordered an autopsy.

While the investigation continues  as the Orange Police Department search for persons with any information in connection with the case, Evelyn Baldwin, sister of Emanuel, was speaking to the pastor and making final arrangements for her brother on Friday.

“I am numb, really numb,” Baldwin said. “I am a ball of emotions, fine now, then crying. Then I will remember something he said and start laughing. He was such a jokester.”

Baldwin described her brother as a caring person who adored his daughter, Elaysia, 14.

“He was a father, a brother and a son,” Baldwin said. “He had a passion for basketball and would ‘give camp’ to children if they asked or not. He loved teaching children about the game.”

Baldwin said a story the family loved to share concerned the only two times West Orange - Stark beat the powerhouse Lincoln, in Port Arthur, was once when her father played basketball and again when her brother played against Lincoln.

Thornton was a basketball star for West Orange - Stark.

“He is one of the best point guards West Orange - Stark ever had,” Van Wade, sports editor for The Orange Leader said. “I remember covering him when I first started covering sports. Even though he was a small guard, he could slam dunk the ball which was rare for players his size.”

Antoin said her son was a beautiful person who never met a stranger.

“He was not perfect,” Antoin said. “He was a beautiful individual with a passion for people and children he loved.”

Funeral arrangements are pending at Colonial Memorial Chapel.