Her youngest son was gunned down three years ago; her grandson was fatally shot in 2008. Now, another of Betty Cater's sons, Jonathan Wade, has met a similarly tragic fate on the streets of Hempstead.
Wade, 55, a married father of two who was a respiratory therapist and an avid fisherman, was fatally shot Tuesday night -- a day after he allegedly sought to protect his mother after she was assaulted in what police described as a "confrontation" between Cater and neighborhood youths.
"All my sons are dead. They're all gone. What can I say?" Betty Cater, 77, a real estate investor, said Thursday.
Nassau police Det. Capt. John Azzata, of the Homicide Squad, said Thursday police were investigating whether Wade's alleged showdown with the youths is connected to his killing. Wade, who police said was armed with a shotgun, showed up Monday at 83 Albemarle Ave. -- an apartment building his mother owns, which is right next to where he was fatally shot Tuesday -- soon after "hearing his mother was assaulted," Azzata said. No one has been arrested in that alleged assault, he said.
In 2012, Cater's son, Stanley Cater, 46, was shot and killed in Hempstead, a crime for which Herber Guzman was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison last year. Stanley Cater's son, Andre Chambers, 23, was shot in the head in Hempstead in 2008. His killing is unsolved.
Betty Cater, who spoke at her Hempstead home, said she went to her properties at 81 and 83 Albemarle with a repairman Monday to fix sidewalk cracks after getting tickets from the Village of Hempstead.
When she got there, she said, there was a crowd of 35-40 young men standing outside selling drugs.
Cater said she argued with them, but they refused to leave. "I grabbed a stick and I hit him with a stick," she said of one of the youths. "I hit him first. . . . The next thing, I was on the ground and he was kicking and stomping me."
She was taken to Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola and treated, she said, for a concussion. Wade was on his boat at Point Lookout when his aunt -- his mother's sister -- Josie Green, called him to tell him his mother had been beaten.
"He was fuming," said Green, also of Hempstead. "Jonathan was so upset."
Wade was arrested Monday night and charged with first-degree reckless endangerment, discharging a gun in a vehicle and criminal possession of a gun, for allegedly firing a shotgun from his wife's Lexus into a crowd.
"I can't get into his mind, but being the son, if your mother is telling you that she's been assaulted, I think the natural reaction of any offspring would be to either call the police and then respond, or go there to see if you can help your parent," Azzata said.
Wade was arraigned in First District Court in Hempstead Tuesday and released around 4:30 p.m., said his family, who denies he had a shotgun. Nassau police wouldn't say if they recovered the gun but said he was unarmed when he was killed.
At about 6 p.m. Tuesday, Wade was driving west past 81 Albemarle and saw "a disturbance" and called 911, Nassau police said. Green said her nephew was upset that the same youths were still sitting in front of the building.
As he circled back, Wade was shot and he sped away to nearby Henry Street, where he crashed into a chain-link fence surrounding a middle school, then slammed into metal bleachers, police said. Three boys, 4, 8 and 12 were injured. Wade died at a hospital just after 8 p.m., police said.
Wade, who graduated from York College in Queens, was a licensed captain who chartered his boat for trips. Cater recalled her son telling her: " 'I'm blessed, Ma. I get paid all this money for doing something I really love doing.' And believe me, this boy loved fishing."