Deborah Kemper

Our mother, Lorena Thompson, was the second child of seven. She was my grandmother’s favorite. She worked at the Los Angeles Airport as a ticket agent. My stepfather was “in between jobs” a lot. My mother would typically leave work at the end of the day and go to my grandmother’s, make dinner and then come home to cook for us. She was well-loved by her parents, her siblings and friends.

I was seven years old, in the second grade, when our mother was murdered. She was 32 years old and recently separated from our stepfather. She left early on Monday, November 1, 1965, to go to the unemployment office in downtown Los Angeles because my stepfather had caused her to lose her job. He had stalked us for months. At the unemployment office, he shot and killed her as she tried to run to safety. He shot others who tried to help, but he killed her, emptying his gun as he stood over her. He used a gun that he had stolen three months earlier during the Watts riots.

It was a selfish act that silenced her voice forever.

In Loving Memory of Jennie

The light went out of our lives on May 11, 2005. My beautiful daughter, Jennifer, was murdered by her ex-husband. He shot her three times with a shotgun and left her to die. Jennie was a loving, caring person who touched many lives and continues to touch them. Her six siblings, two daughters, aunts, uncles, cousins, work and church communities were absolutely devastated. We honor the memory of our Jennie by telling her story. We will never forget!

Nancy A. Sullivan

On June 4, 2013, my mom, Nancy Sullivan, was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in Shoreview, Minneapolis. My mom, my best friend, died of multiple gunshot wounds in front of me. Before he turned the gun on himself and died by suicide, her ex-boyfriend first shot me and my daughter’s dad several times as well.

Fortunately, my daughter did not lose either of her parents that day; however, she lost her grandma, whom she loved dearly, and she has been scarred for life by what took place. No, my daughter was not present when the shooting happened, but that did not stop the ripple effects of devastation from reaching her. It reaches many and does not discriminate. Years later we live the PTSD brought on by guns.

This was the second incident in which I was shot. In 2008, less than a month after giving birth to my daughter, I was shot in a drive-by shooting in south Minneapolis. We have lost other loved ones to gun violence as well, and the impact has been immense. Gun violence has to end. It can end. We are responsible for everyone’s safety.

Bonnie

My father was a domestic abuser, whose violence and threats had gotten so bad that my family and I had to escape in the middle of the night. Leaving him did not end his threats, though. He threatened to kill himself as a way to manipulate us to come back. He continued to threaten my immediate family and anyone he thought was keeping us away from him.

One night, many months after I had escaped, I received a call from my mother. She told me that my uncle had done a wellness check on my father, and that he had found an arsenal of weapons that my father had collected. Apparently my father had planned to make good on his threats, but my uncle was able to remove the guns before my father was able to use them on anyone. I am grateful that no one was murdered by my father’s hands, but I still grieve, knowing that many families are not as lucky as mine.

Anonymous

My already abusive ex-husband loaded his .22 one night in an alcohol-filled rage and held it to my head, demanding answers to ridiculous questions. He calmed down and unloaded it. Then he became enraged again and reloaded it in front of me, to hold it to my head again, asking more ridiculous questions. I received a restraining order (that he tried to get out of, saying he was a chronic alcoholic; the judge almost laughed) and started a criminal domestic violence (CDV) case against him. When I dropped my name from the charges, the state picked them up.

He tried to get out of it by saying that I had bought the gun (true) and that there was no proof (the cops picked up the gun and presented it in the pre-trial hearing). He was convicted of CDV of a high and aggravated nature (HAN) and sentenced to 10 years. That was suspended to 14 months, of which he had already spent 12 in county jail awaiting psychological testing, etc., so his prison sentence was actually only six weeks. To this day, I have severe PTSD.

My son Johnathan

I was married to a man who controlled me, who terrified me. One of his favorites was to either threaten me by hitting me or aiming at me as if he were going to shoot me. He fooled me and the courts and got custody of my son. My final straw was a very severe beating, along with the threat of, “If you ever try to take him, I will kill you, and if I can’t find you, I’ll start with your sister and her three boys.” One more way to control me.

I believed him. I never imagined he would hurt my son.

In June 1983, I received a call where I couldn’t figure out who this person was. Finally she blurted out, “He killed them, he shot and killed the baby [my son] and my mother. They found the bodies on May 11, the day after Mothers Day, he committed suicide by gun!” Without names I knew who she was referring to. My son was four and a half years old. Now I fight gun violence! #Memoriesthatsurvive

Jody Marchand

On February 1, 2010, my husband shot and killed my 17-year-old daughter, Olivia, shot me in the head, then killed himself with a Glock. He was a hunter, so I was not afraid of guns being in the house, and he said the Glock would be used to hunt as well as for target practice. Later I learned a Glock is a powerful firearm used by the military, by police, as well as law-abiding citizens.

I was a victim of domestic violence — not physical abuse, but emotional abuse. Domestic violence is about power and control: After 30 years together, he knew he was losing control, and wanted it until the very end.

I survived the gunshot wound that entered my left temple, shattered my jaw and now sits in my right shoulder. The scar is a constant reminder of the guilt and shame I will forever feel for not escaping that day, as well as many times prior.

My mission is to tell anyone who will listen so they may learn the signs of abuse, and learn that abusive behavior doesn’t change — and gets worse as time goes on.

I am survivor, telling my story, and keeping Olivia’s memory alive.

Angel Gonzales Jr.

When I was in high school, the sweet, loving and playful dad I knew was disappearing to mental illness and alcoholism that would sometimes turn violent. One night, I heard my parents arguing in the kitchen, and then I saw my mother run into her bedroom. I went in to ask my father what happened, and when I walked in, I froze; he was pointing his handgun at me. He raised his arm and shot above my head.

A couple of years later, I received a phone call from my mom saying she was scared because my father was upset and looking for his handgun. I told her to hide in a wooded area away from the house and that I would be there in about 15 minutes. When I arrived, I found my mom safe outside, but when I went inside the house, I found my father taking his last breaths. He had used the handgun he’d kept in the kitchen on himself. This happened in 1996 and still feels like it was yesterday. I wish he were here today, to joke and play with my wife and children.

Rhonda Denise Cureton

I lived in an abusive relationship with my two youngest daughters’ father for 14 years. He was very controlling. I was afraid to leave. He drank a lot, and things were really bad when he did drink. In March 2016, I finally got tired. I told him I was going to take my three daughters and leave because no one deserved to live in hell and suffer the way we did every day. On March 12, 2016, he had been drinking, and he started fussing. I didn’t like talking to him when he was drinking. I was walking off to go into the house when he pulled out a revolver and told me I was going to die. He pulled the trigger and fired. The first shot scraped my ear and the second shot hit me in the head (it was a deep flesh wound, and I only ended up getting staples). But he was in a rage and he tried to shoot his own daughters. He shot and killed my 17-year-old daughter (not his daughter). She died protecting us. He also shot a good Samaritan who had stopped to help us. He then killed himself.

Lynette Lee

As I was preparing to share my sister’s story today, I began looking through some of my papers. I also came across the newspaper article; it was about two paragraphs. What stood out yesterday was, “Police had not determined what set off the violence.”

Our family never thought he was good enough for her. He was rude, didn’t treat her with respect. He was able to isolate her from the family. After he attempted to run her and her son off a bridge, he finally went to jail.

Then one day, I got a call. She had someone she wanted me to speak with. It was him. He said, “I owe you an apology. Remember when someone cut all your tires? That was me. I wanted to burn your car up, but it was too close to the apartments.” I told him, “You don’t owe me an apology, you owe me a deductible.” Well, soon after, she married him. I was transferred to Fort Riley, Kansas, but quickly had to return because she had gotten ill and needed someone.

On July 15, 2006, just three days before her birthday, my sister was shot by her now ex-husband several times, in front of her daughter, while she held her two-week-old baby and her teen grandson. She had divorced him and was moving on with her life. She had reported that he continually violated his restraining order.

My life will never be the same. I miss my sister.