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Corey Bush, left, and Antwon Bush put out a sign at a fish fry to raise money for the son of double homicide victims Lakita Hicks and George Dillard held at Just4U Car Wash on Brainerd Road on Friday, Feb. 5, 2016, in Chattanooga, Tenn.

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Locals gather to remember, mourn double homicide victims

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HOMICIDES, YEAR-TO-DATE

2016: 3

2015: 3

2014: 5

Source: Chattanooga Police Department

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SHOOTINGS, YEAR-TO-DATE

2016: 17

2015: 10

2014: 12

Source: Chattanooga Police Department

Lakita Hicks used to call out her uncle Eric Terry all the time, no matter where they were, just to embarrass him.

"UNCLE! UNCLE!" she'd shout at him, across the aisles in the Dollar General, or wherever they happened to be. He'd shake his head, try not to turn around, laugh.

It's just a memory now.

On Sunday, Hicks, 25, and George Dillard, 24, were shot to death in their home on East 13th Street in front of Hicks' 5-year-old son, who called 911 to plead for help.

Terry visited the boy Wednesday.

"Hey, Uncle," the boy said.

Terry felt like he was hearing Hicks' voice.

"That child don't know my name because all he ever heard his mama call me was 'Uncle,'" he said with a long, deep laugh. Then he stilled. "He is the strongest, most resilient kid I've ever seen."

On Friday, Terry joined community members, family and friends at events across the city to remember Hicks and Dillard, to raise money for their funerals and to love on her son, who will not be identified in the Times Free Press.

With fish fillets sizzling in a deep fryer inside the Just 4U Car Service on Brainerd Road, Anita Houston and a handful of others stood outside beside poster-sized pictures of Hicks and her son, and asked drivers to stop and buy a fish sandwich, or chips, or a hot dog. Or to just give a donation.

They slipped the cash into a big plastic container.

"We just thought this is something we should do," Houston said. "That boy lost his mama and his daddy. We want to help with stuff he might need."

The boy will be raised by his family now, Terry said. After Hicks was killed, Terry started a GoFundMe to pay for Hicks' funeral expenses and the campaign already has raised more than its $5,000 goal. Any extra money will go to set up a scholarship fund for the boy, he said.

Tara Montgomery, Hicks' aunt, said Hicks was always smiling, even when she had braces, which she hated.

"We really just want justice for [the boy], and for George and Lakita," she said.

But justice may be hard to find. Despite the outpouring of support for the boy — Terry's phone has been ringing off the hook with folks asking to help — another crucial phone line has been silent.

Chattanooga police have not received a single tip on the case.

A few hours after the fish fry, about 75 people gathered at Westside Missionary Baptist Church for a prayer vigil. As different people led the group in prayer and song, some attendees rocked back and forth in their seats. Others wiped away tears. The group sang and clapped and prayed. They asked God to help them take back the streets.

Then Kurria Rogers, Dillard's mother, walked up to the stage, wearing a bright red baseball cap pulled low. Two steps from the pulpit she hesitated, and deep sobs wracked her body.

"It's all right," someone in the crowd shouted at her.

"Take your time," someone else said.

Rogers took the microphone.

She recounted racing to the crime scene on Sunday and realizing, after several excruciating hours, that the man dead inside was her son.

"We all have our flaws," she said. "But that was my firstborn son. My firstborn son."

Contact staff writer Shelly Bradbury at 423-757-6525 or sbradbury@timesfreepress.com with tips or story ideas. Follow @ShellyBradbury.

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