On January 13, 2020, my life was changed forever. My son, Antonio Johnson, was killed in Aurora, Illinois, only five days after turning 26 years old. Antonio was an amazing young man who had a zest for life and a love for family. Antonio had a passion for basketball, boxing and footworking. He loved God and valued the true meaning of living life to the fullest. He had a smile that would light up the world in dark places and a laugh that was contagious. Antonio’s true love overall was being a father to a three-year-old son. I want my son’s memory to live forever, through my words and actions, so he won’t ever be forgotten.
I lost my loving and brilliant son to suicide by firearm in 2015, due to the side effects of antidepressants and the lax firearm purchasing laws.
On June 20 of this year, I got that dreadful phone call that my 20-year-old son was shot 17 times. I lived in Vermont, while he lived in Washington state with his girlfriend. The phone rang at 7:30 a.m. my time, as I was getting ready for a doctor’s appointment. The person on the other end informed me that my son had died twice. One while en route to the hospital and once while lying on the operating table. My heart dropped to the floor.
I can’t explain the fear I felt as she told me I needed to get to Washington ASAP. So I booked the first thing I could find and left that evening.
Upon arriving, I just knew I was coming to the state to make funeral arrangements. I did not know where he was shot or if he even were still alive. It felt like someone reached in my chest and kicked my heart and soul off the planet.
My son was fighting for his life, and I couldn’t do anything but pray. Now, 77 plus days in, we are still in ICU, trying to save him.
My name is Daniel D. Walter.
Our family moved to Arizona from Maine so Zac could go to ASU. I found employment in the prison system as a counselor for mental health and substance abuse. Our son started at ASU, yet he didn’t do well on his own at first. He had to drop out and started at community college. He was very happy with his progress, and we were very proud of him.
He was working two jobs at one point and going to school. We visited on weekends and on days off. He was my youngest son and like a best friend. We had long talks about everything going on in the world. I truly feel like part of my heart was taken.
On May 29, 2016, sometime after 5 a.m., I awoke to knocking on my door and found two police officers. They gave me a small piece of paper with a name and number on it and instructed me to call the number. When I called, I was informed that my son was gone.
Keivan was the eldest of two children and my last to bury. He was my best friend, my protector, my baby. He was the joker in our family and among his friends. He loved riding his motorcycle. Most importantly, K was the father of two sons, who had just turned one and 13 when he was killed. His boys were his pride and joy, as he was mine. K was preceded by his younger brother, Jalonnie, and stepfather Mike, leaving to mourn him his children, me (his mother), his girlfriend, and countless family and friends.
Despite hundreds of witnesses, including police and numerous security cameras, his case reminds unsolved.
My daughter Whitney Brown was killed August 13, 2015, as she and her friend, Devon Fletcher, stood outside on the sidewalk, talking. An unknown vehicle passed down the street, shooting, and Whitney was struck with Devon. Whitney‘s five-year-old son ducked down in the backseat to keep from being shot, along with her sister—youngest sister—at the front of the vehicle, ducking down, watching in horror, as her sister fell against the vehicle. Her younger sister rushed to her, holding her, telling her to breathe. Whitney’s last words to her sister were “I love you.” Her son watched in horror as his mother passed in his aunt’s arms.
Whitney wasn’t the only one who lost her life that day. Her friend Devon, with whom she was standing, talking, also lost his, leaving behind a two-week-old daughter.
Almost every day I see a mother falling to her knees, asking, why did they do this to my child? We need answers as well as a solution. Hear us. Don’t just give us a Band-Aid; we need safer gun laws. My daughter and her friend didn’t have to die, but they did, from a AK-47.
Delvin K. Weems was 23 years old when he was shot and killed. His life mattered; he was my child. Delvin was a student at Benedict College in South Carolina, finishing his last year. Delvin’s dream was to play football. He had a scholarship to Marshall University and then transferred to Campbell University. After not getting the playing time he thought he should have, he followed some of his fellow teammates to South Carolina. This was his last effort to make his dreams come true.
With COVID-19 , the school wasn’t sure if they would be playing; Delvin decided not finish up so he could play the following season. Well, that season never came for him because someone he had befriended in South Carolina knew that he kept money on him. That friend decided to have him set up to be robbed. The robbery turned into murder.
My son, Kevin Leonard Fulton, was shot in the back by an Uber driver on the morning of June 23, 2021, in Atlanta. He was 34 years old, a father of a three-year-old son (Britain Banks), a recent graduate of Morehouse College and an actor who just recently gained a role as an extra in the Netflix series “Ozark.” He was a loving son, nephew, grandson and brother.
His death was senseless and didn’t have to happen. He was sharing an Uber ride with two other individuals. The Uber driver dropped them at a gas station, and as they were walking away, the Uber driver shot my son in the back and shot the other individual, who survived. The third individual was not injured.
Kevin was on his way to becoming a great actor and an entrepreneur. He was so excited about his future.
We will truly miss Kevin, but we will advocate on his behalf to take the guns off the streets.
When I was 14, my mother was shot and killed by a neighbor. Twenty-five years later, my oldest son was killed.
In mid-March 2021, while walking to his car to go home, my son was shot and killed by two brothers shooting at a bar. My life has forever changed, and I miss him daily. He had a good job at Swagelok, and he was getting ready to purchase his first home and move back to his high-school hometown, Brooklyn, Ohio.
Sean had a grand personality, a warming smile; he loved sports and even dancing. He was there to help anyone who needed it. Just two months after his passing, I spoke with the staff at his high school to start a memorial fund in his name. It honors his memory and brings awareness to gun violence while still helping someone further their education, as Sean would approve.
My family and I will continue funding this scholarship till the end of our days!