Family of shooting suspect says mental facility should never have released him

Image 1 of 4

Anthony Phillips is charged with firing a gun at a Detroit gas station, critically wounding a 13-year-old and a 23-year-old. Phillips' family says the violent outburst would never have happened last Friday if he had gotten the help that he needed.

"I just want people to know that, that young man loves people," said Rhonda Phillips, the suspect's mother. "He loves children. And he is not an animal that they are making him out. And I apologize for anything my son did to put anyone in harm's way. He was never raised that way."

Those tears flowed from a mother's shame and heartbreak. Rhonda Phillips' son Charles Anthony Phillips was formally charged Monday for the two non-fatal shootings at a gas station on Detroit's west side. The victims were a 23-year-old man from Lincoln Park and a 13-year-old named Damarian Johnson. 

"When people were running out of the gas station … they went in and saw him lying there," said Geneva Brathwaite, the boy's aunt. "We were just waiting for him to breathe on his own, make some sort of movement to let us know he's ok."

FOX 2 spoke with Phillips' mother, aunt and grandmother. They say he's struggled with schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder for years.

"All I know is, one minute the boy is fine," said Cheryl Harris, the suspect's grandmother. "And the next minute ..."  

"He has these out-of-body experiences," said Cortnie Harris, the suspect's aunt.

"It's like the devil takes over his soul," Cheryl Harris said. 

"And we try to bring him back with love," Cortnie Harris said.

"We tried our best, we tried our best to get him some help and they just kept letting him out the hospital," said Rhonda Phillips, his mother. "I'm like why are you all letting him out so early? He's not ready. I can hear it in my son's voice."

Teen shooting victim was buying pop at gas station, expected to have brain damage
13-year-old and 23-year-old in critical condition after shooting, possible suspect surrenders

Rhonda Phillips says her son has been on medication and in and out of hospitals and mental health facilities for the past several years. His aunt says he was doing well until he got laid off at Ford Motor Company and lost contact with his young daughter.

"There aren't any excuses for what he did," Cortnie Harris said. "We're not making excuses. And I don't want anybody to think that, but I want them to know he's not the only person walking around like that. And I just don't want anybody else to go through what my family is going through - and what those other two families are going through."

Right now Charles Anthony Phillips locked up on a half million-dollar bond.

Meanwhile, young Damarian Johnson is still fighting for his life at Detroit Children's Hospital of Michigan.

Phillips' family says they don't know who gave him the firearm and that their family has never owned a gun before.