DeEbony Groves was a 21 year-old student at Belmont University. She was an educated woman, with a beautiful spirit, and a strong Christian faith. With big plans, Groves was a few weeks away from obtaining her bachelor’s degree in social work when she was tragically killed at a Tennessee Waffle House in the morning of April 22nd. DeEbony would have turned 22 on June 16th. Groves was looking forward to walking across the graduation stage. Sadly, her mother will accept DeEbony’s honorary degree from Belmont University at commencement on May 5th.
On Saturday, April 28th, Groves was laid to rest. In a red open casket adorned with beautiful red and white roses, hundreds of people arrived at First Baptist Church in Gallatin, Tennessee. It was obvious that she was loved as the church was packed. During the service, mourners learned that just before her death, Groves was singing gospel songs with her friend.
Hundreds of people attended Groves’ funeral service Saturday at the First Baptist Church in Gallatin, Tennessee. According to The Tennessean, Groves was a gospel singer and a member of the choir. She apparently loved to sing and reportedly was singing gospel songs with her friend before she was killed. Not only was Groves a member of the choir, but she was also a member of Delta Sigma Theta. On the day of her service, Groves’ sorority sisters, members of Delta Sigma Theta, sat toward the front of the room. Before the service started, they stood near Groves’ casket, locked hands and sang the sorority’s “Sweetheart Song.” The church was packed with mourners arriving to say their final goodbyes with many of them wearing buttons with Groves’ face as the buttons shared that her smile would be missed. People cried, hugged and told stories of the woman who went by the nickname of Shae (SHAY). In sharing stories, family members revealed that Groves was a vibrant and outgoing woman. A beaming smile was on display in so many of the pictures shown that were taken throughout her life, including one where she is holding a fish that looks like she caught. Groves’ brother, DiAngelo Groves, sang “The Will of God.” He shared that his sister used to sing it when she was in the choir. To honor his sister, DiAngelo Groves sang as he revealed that his heart was heavy.
At Groves’ service, Walt Ehmer, the restaurant chain’s CEO, revealed that he spoke with survivors from the Tennessee Waffle House shooting and they revealed Groves’ final moments. We went and visited with the survivors, and they talked about the people who were in that restaurant before what happened and specifically remembered your daughter, Ehmer told mourners. And (they) spoke of your daughter and her friend, and said they were singing gospel songs. And everybody was singing and enjoying each other and she said, The last thing I remember her saying was, singing Jesus Loves Me. All I can tell you is that our Waffle House family is hurting for you and with you, said Ehmer. You will get through this because I know by watching this is a very strong, faith-filled community.
On April 22nd, 29-year-old Travis Reinking allegedly opened fire outside the restaurant with an AR-15 rifle and then stormed the restaurant. Aside from DeEbony Groves, Akilah DaSilva, a 23-year-old rap artist from Antioch, Joe Perez, a 20-year-old who lived in Nashville, and Taurean Sanderlin, a 29-year-old employee at the restaurant were gunned down as well. Four people were injured. Reinking, 29, has been arrested and charged in connection with the shooting. He is facing multiple charges, including four counts of criminal homicide. Police officers have not identified a motive.