Lamonta Stroud, 18, and his 20-year-old brother, Richard Slater, who were neighbors of the family, were presented with a proclamation on Feb. 5 and commissioners declared Feb. 5 Lamonta Stroud and Richard Slater Appreciation Day.
Though the story ended tragically, the proclamation praised the brothers for “putting the well-being of others ahead of themselves.” It was a proud but bittersweet moment for the two young men.
“We didn’t expect this big a deal,” said an emotional Slater. “But we’re thankful. I wish I could have done more. I wish the children were here.”
Reeba Glass; her mother, Rosetta Mitchell; and one of her children escaped the flames. Glass and her 6-year-old son, Darnell Glass Jr., were hospitalized but later released.
Glass’ other children – 3-year-old Armoni; 7-month-old Deon; 9-year-old Adaria; and Dashawn, age 7 – all perished in the fire. Investigators later determined that the surviving child accidentally started the fire while playing with a lighter.
The community has donated clothes, food and other essentials to help the family.
During the ceremony, Glass showed her gratitude for the kindness shown to her family.
“I just wanted to tell Rockdale County thank you for all your love and support for my family,” she said. “If I could, I’d trade it all in just to see my babies’ smiles again.”
Stroud and Slater heard the commotion around 11 p.m. on Jan. 8 and rushed to the scene to help “any way we could.”
Stroud was able to break a rear window and get into the burning apartment.
Slater managed to get through the front door. He says he has replayed the scene repeatedly in his mind since the tragedy.
“The flames were coming down the stairs slowly,” Slater said. “But they were growing bigger. And the heat was intense.”
He said he couldn’t believe what his brother did next.
“Lamonta tried to run upstairs through the flames. I had to pull him back. There was just no way. You don’t beat a fire.”
The brothers say they both want to go into the military.
“So if this ever happens again and we’re there, we’ll have the training,” said Stroud, nodding toward his brother. “He’s going in this summer and I’m going in next summer.”