My daughter Ciera’s life was taken from me on October 30, 2010, three days after her 25th birthday. She left behind a 7-year-old son. Ciera, gone too soon. Not a day goes by that she’s not on my mind, and she’s always in my heart.
What do you do when you fight to ensure your child is a respectable, productive individual who is loved and gives love, but he is murdered anyway? You fight some more.
Melquain was my only child. I carried him for nine months and raised him 27 years and four days. He was an intelligent, charismatic, empathetic, witty young man. He used to help others to pass the exam for a GED.
Yet he was still murdered at a bus stop. I forgot to teach him that pain and hurt lives in many others’ hearts, which will make their hearts black and despise you, even if they don’t know you.
Now I’m left to wake up in a home to the air and wind. I have to help raise his daughter, who was born one and a half months after his murder. In order to survive, I have to give back in his name. I established the Melquain Jatelle Anderson Foundation: Fighting Against Gun Violence Via Education, and I implemented scholarships and emergency funds at the college where he earned his associate degree and the college he was attending at his demise. I try to help survivors and save others from being murdered or imprisoned due to gun violence.
My son’s name is Christopher Tashane Byrd. Chris was a victim of gun violence. He was shot and killed on June 4, 2013. He was 26 years old. That was the worst day of my life.
Seven years ago, life as I knew it was torn down. That morning, I waved to my son as he went to work. He said, “I love you, Ma,” and I said, “Love you too.” The day went by; then I couldn’t breathe anymore. All because someone decided to play God and end his life. Chris will forever be 26 years old.
Chris had a daughter on the way at the time of his death. A daughter that he didn’t get to meet, at least not physically. My granddaughter’s father was stolen from her before she had a chance to grow and be Daddy’s little girl.
My son was a giant—larger than life. His smile was radiant, his personality infectious, and his love for life incomparable.
In this same way, our family lives on for him. Through this tragedy, we try to bring healing. Chris was a real person, and I will always do my very best to keep his memory alive.
My daughter, Shirley Goonette McKenzie, was shot and killed at the Cockpit on Berryhill Road, on June 7, 2014. We are still fighting for justice for her. I know people know who killed my daughter. Out of 200 people in that club, somebody knows something. My daughter was there with a female that claimed she was her friend, but she never was. A real, true friend would never leave her there, lying on the floor with a gunshot wound to the head. There are some coldhearted people in this world who know what happened but don’t care. If it were a loved one of theirs, they would want justice.
My daughter, Shirley Goonette McKenzie, had a heart of gold and would do anything for anybody. My daughter deserves justice. So much pain: I, as her mother, and sisters, brother, family, have been talking to investigators, and they have all stopped calling me. In my heart I feel like they have pushed my daughter’s case to the side. This makes me truly heartbroken, with so much pain and tears. Mother loves you, baby girl, Shirley Goonette McKenzie. Justice for you.
It has been almost five years since my beautiful son, A’mani Miller, was taken from me, family and friends. On March 14, 2016, A’mani was a victim of gun violence. A’mani was the best son ever—to know him was to love him. His death has affected me in the worst ways. I suffer from depression and anxiety, and I have been battling cancer. My life will never be the same. I feel like my heart has been ripped from my chest. I pray that gun violence will come to an end, and I thank all who advocate against it.
Jordan was our third and last child: an avid athlete, a star basketball player and amateur boxer! So handsome, tall and muscular! He was the comedian of our family and would “rank” on anybody just to make me and his daddy laugh! On November 4, 2019, someone shot and killed our 24-year-old Jordan, taking him from us, his sister, his brother and his two-year-old son, Legend.
Life is now complicated; although we know who killed Jordan, the person or persons have yet to be arrested. Here’s the take I now have: I have forgiven this lost soul who pulled the trigger, for whatever reason they felt the need to do so. I forgive them for the act because I know that, had they known who they were killing, they would not have done so. That said, when the story is told and when justice comes to the surface, I just want the person to “get it”—to understand that a gun solves nothing and that using one only creates more pain, and not only for the person’s life you took.
You never think about one day getting a phone call that your son’s friend’s car got shot up, and one of them didn’t make it. I got that call April 25. I never prayed so hard in my life, but it was my son. One of my twin boys’ lives was taken by a gunshot wound to the back of his head. Now I have to tell his twin and two other siblings, as well as my mom and everyone else, that their 21-year-old brother was shot and killed.
Anthony wasn’t the best kid, but he was my kid, and I loved him so much that they used to call him my favorite. He really was my best friend; I cry every day. I will never see him grow up, see what he could have done. He never got married or had babies; he never left the country. His smile was as bright as the sun.
He really did touch so many lives in his short life, and he experienced a lot of life by learning the hard way. Most days I don’t know what to do, and all I think about is what life could have, would have been for Anthony Dario Boelter, 9/15/98-4/25/20.
On Saturday, July 4, my son Antonio came by to shower to get ready for a cookout with my brother Bobby at our aunt’s house. We laughed and talked before he left. The last thing he said was, “See you later, Ma.”
I got a call later that evening from my brother. He said, “Sis, I have some bad news.” I said, “Real bad?” He said, “Yes.” I said, “Is Tonio OK?” He said, “No.”
I started screaming and gave my phone to my son. Tonio and Bobby had stopped at McDonald’s on Penn Ave, in Southeast Washington, D.C. They were in line; some kids were in the door throwing fireworks inside. One hit Tonio’s foot. He got out of line to see what was going on, and a 14-year-old shot and killed him. He was 36 at the time and a father of four. Always trying to help others. I was blessed to have him as a son.
The police came to my home to tell me he passed on the way to the hospital. This is my second son that was taken away from me. My life will never be the same.
My son’s name is Gavin. Not was, but still is: Gavin. And I am his voice now. Gavin only got to be five years old for 12 short days. Ten years ago, one day after Thanksgiving, my son got hold of his daddy’s duty weapon. He shot himself in the face and passed away.
We as parents must keep these guns out of the reach of our children. I assumed I had the safest house, living with a police officer. But with the gun being locked, cocked and ready to rock, it took my son’s life in a matter of seconds. I mourn my child every day and now am fighting almost 19 months for a change in how we keep weapons. But it is a fight I cannot do alone. It’s too late for my child. But not for yours. Please think about it.
My loving son was murdered in Dallas, Texas. He was 23 years old. He left behind five babies, two sisters and a brother. That early Friday morning call was mind-boggling, devastating, nerve-racking. This was May 2, 2008, and every day it seems like yesterday.
I miss my son so much. I often think about how would he look now. His kids don’t know him because they never got to meet him. One of them was only two years old. She does not remember him. One was born one day after he was killed; another one was born two days after being killed. The other two were born that following October. He was young and out there, but they are his kids, and he was taken from them.