Parents of a young man stabbed to death last week in downtown Silver Spring say they want more information about what happened and about why they weren’t allowed to see their son on his deathbed.

Getro Benamna, 19, died after Montgomery County police say he was stabbed Dec. 7 near the intersection of Fenton Street and Ellsworth Drive, allegedly by 18-year-old Dakari Thomas. Authorities have said Benamna had met with Thomas around 11:30 a.m. that day to buy marijuana, and that when Benamna became suspicious that the drug wasn’t marijuana a fight broke out. Police allege Thomas eventually stabbed Benamna. Benamna was taken to a hospital where he later died.

The stabbing victim’s mother, Odile Benamna, and father, Mahamane Benamna, told Bethesda Beat on Saturday, speaking in the Sango language with a relative translating, that they didn’t know Getro was planning to buy marijuana that day. Odile said that around 10 a.m. last Tuesday, he was making breakfast when she told him she was going to a mall in downtown Silver Spring to shop.

“When I left the house he was still home,” she said.

When she came out of the mall, Odile said a woman was screaming at people to “stay back.” Then she saw that Getro had been stabbed and told the woman it was her son.

Odile said despite his injuries, Getro ran to a friend’s house nearby, but she couldn’t keep up with him. There, his friend called 911 and he was taken to Medstar Washington Hospital, his parents said.

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“I was trying to chase [Getro], then I lost my breath, because I can’t run that fast,” she said. Odile said she later lost sight of Getro.

Odile said that, according to Getro’s friend, his last words before being taken to the hospital were “Am I going to make it? Somebody just stabbed me.”

The Benamnas later spoke with police and then went to the hospital, where they were told Getro had to undergo surgery. Mahamane Benamna said hospital staff told them that they couldn’t see Getro because he wasn’t able to identify them.

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“The hospital said we cannot see him because he has to say, ‘that’s my parents’ first,” he said.

Instead, officers went to the Benamnas’ home in Silver Spring around midnight Wednesday to inform them that their son had died.

Three MedStar Health spokespeople could not immediately be reached for comment Monday morning. 

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Odile Benamna said on Saturday that they want a better explanation from the hospital about why they weren’t allowed to see their son as he was dying, and that they want answers to questions such as where and how many times he was stabbed.

Odile said she is angry at both Thomas and the hospital.

“The hospital is not the one that killed him. But the hospital is the one that was taking care of him. They have to give you [information] about what is going on,” she said.

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Thomas is charged with first-degree murder and is being held without bond. Odile said on Saturday that Thomas “has to pay for what he did” after taking her son’s life.

Paul Chung, an attorney who represents Thomas, could not immediately be reached for comment Monday morning.

Getro Benamna, the youngest of four children, was born in the Central African Republic and came to the United States at the age of 7. He graduated from Northwood High School this past spring and was preparing to start classes at Montgomery College in January, his father said. He planned to study computer science.

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Getro was the only child living at home, Odile Benamna said.

“My son is my teacher. He does everything for me. He translates everything for me, [including] all the bank accounts,” she said.

Odile said she’s lost sleep and her appetite since her son’s death. The family held a vigil for Getro Saturday night near the site of the stabbing and is raising money for his funeral through a GoFundMe page. 

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Dan Schere can be reached at daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com