Falisa Washington-Evans

My son, Daryl Washington, was murdered on July 29, 2014. He was shot in the head while defending a family member against a local gang and the mob of members that came to attack. He had just turned 27 that April. Daryl loved his family more than himself. He was tall, handsome, loving and respectful of everyone. And he was loved in return.

He loved working out and basketball. He counseled kids in the summer, and they loved him because he was so considerate of them. He was a gentle giant.

D Wash, as he was known to his friends and teammates, was known for his big, beautiful smile, generous heart and great big hugs, available to all.

Three and a half years after his death, there was finally a trial. We got a conviction, but not the justice he deserved.

I have suffered through depression and an emptiness that can never be filled. My life and relationships have changed. I will never be the same. I thank God for carrying me through these years. I don’t want to know where I’d be without Him. I am, however, acutely aware of how empty I am without my son, my Daryl, every single day!

Joyce Clark

On September 27, 2020, my only son was gunned down after a party he had attended. He was shot numerous times and died on the street, alone. I don’t know who or why someone decided to end his life, but he or she took not only a son but also a brother and father. I don’t know whether we will ever get justice for this act of cowardice in my lifetime. I don’t think it will matter, either, because it won’t bring him back. I miss him so much and think of him daily, but I know he’s with God. That brings me peace.

Monique Irvis

I’m Monique Irvis. I lost my son, Eric Keith Woods Jr., on August 1, 2007. That night was like a dream from which I didn’t want to wake up. When I got the call that Eric had been shot, I didn’t believe it. I hung up the phone, and then his friend called me back and said, “it’s true.” At that time, I just started praying that he was okay. When the doctor told me that my son was no longer here, my heart just felt like it left my body.

As a mother, I never would have guessed that my son would have been killed. The feeling never goes away. It feels like that night everyday; no matter what I’m doing, I think about him. I remember that I started drinking really heavily, wanting to kill myself. I just didn’t want to live. Today is a one of those days when he’s on my mind really heavily, and I wish he were here. I did call my therapist and talk to him.

A mother should never have to go through the pain that I’m going through. It feel like your insides have been ripped out. I love you, Eric.

My son Willy

On July 25, 1993, I was sitting in my living room when I heard a shot from my son’s room. My heart stopped, and I began to run. As I stumbled up the stairs, I kept hollering “Willy!” “Willy!” “Willy, answer me!” “Please answer me,” over and over. But I knew.

He had been in weekly therapy since the age of 8. He was now 15 and was being bullied at school; plus, his girlfriend had broken up with him recently. My whole body was shaking as I ran to his bedroom door. I didn’t want to open it. I knew we had no guns in our house, but I grew up with guns and I knew that sound.

Willy died of a “self-inflicted gunshot to the head” with a gun that was bought for $75 on the street.

My heart shattered that day and has never healed. For 27 years, 9,855 days, I have cried every day. When I close my eyes, I still hear his laugh and the sound of his voice. I miss him every hour, every minute, every second of every day.

Aaron Justin Wornum

My son Aaron Justin Wornum, 25, was murdered on June 26, 2011. He was my youngest child and has an older brother, Jamaal Antone Wornum.

Aaron was such a loving child. He was always checking on his cousins to making sure that they were OK. He had such a love for music. He wrote and produced his own music and took the time to share his talents with other youth. Aaron always talked. He was always trying to help the youth challenge their minds, and talked about moving out of state so that he could enhance his music skills. Aaron was that peacemaker among his friends. He also had a great love for God and would preach the Bible so much that I thought he might become a preacher. After his untimely death I had so many people, young and old, tell me about how wonderful my son was. They said he always had encouraging words for everyone that he spoke with.

Jeani Garcia

On August 24, 2012, I came home from work and found my 17-year-old son, Kareem Fedd, lying cold and lifeless in his bed. His nose and mouth were bloody, and he looked as if he were sleeping.

At that moment, I had no idea that my son had been shot multiple times as he slept in his own bed. It wasn’t until we got to the hospital, and the emergency room team of doctors notified me that my son had succumbed to his injuries, that I asked, “What injuries?” and they said, “multiple gunshots.” I was in shock—still am, most days.

It took five years and 11 months before an arrest was made; it was a rival gang member who murdered my son. The investigation was led by me. I have learned so much about a failed system—more like a system designed for the children in my community to fail! It’s either from the cradle to the cage or the cradle to the grave.

I have become a credible messenger with Zero Youth Violence, a nonprofit organization in my community, president of the Ortiz Ark Foundation and the founder of Mother2Mother Inc, a support group.

Vernon Eddins Jr. “Shine a Light on Bullying”

My 14-year-old son, Vernon Eddins Jr., was murdered by gang members on December 21, 2007. It was senseless gun violence due to bullying. He and his friends were bullied for over a year by this same gang of older boys … My son,Vernon, was not in a gang.

On the day of my son’s murder, he cut school to walk home a younger child that was being bullied and assaulted by this same gang of older boys. Vernon and his friends did just that and then stood at the bus stop, going to the movies on this last day of school before winter break. He was approached and shot in the heart and died on the grounds of the junior high school he had attended the year before.

Vernon was such a loving kid, as well as a prankster … Pranking was an everyday part of life for him. My son was so funny, smart and loving, and losing him was the hardest thing that I’ve ever faced. It’s still so unbelievable, 13 years later.

Since Vernon’s murder, I’ve founded a nonprofit organization bringing awareness to bullying, and helping our youth and their families with identifying and reporting bullying. Mommy loves you, baby boy.

Alma

I remember the day it happened as if it were yesterday. On October 6, 2008, my son Marcus Lamont Brown became a victim of gun violence when he was murdered in his home during a robbery.

The last time I saw my son was the night before his murder. I dropped him off at the apartment he shared with his brother, just around the corner from our home, and told him that I loved him.

The next day was Monday, and that morning, I was getting my grandchildren ready for daycare. I went in the house to get my phone and noticed that I had missed several calls from my oldest son, Terrence. I called him back, and he told me that Marcus had been shot. I stayed on the phone with Terrence, asking him about the ambulance, asking him what the EMTs were doing. He had died by the time we got to the hospital.

Kalen Black/ Kimberly Jones

My son was murdered on December 15, 2020, by someone who didn’t know him, as he nestled in bed at his home that he shared with roommates. Someone else’s issues resulted in my son’s death, leaving behind a nine-month-old daughter at the time. I haven’t questioned God, and my faith has prevented anger from rising as of today. So many stories, so many lost, yet I didn’t see it coming when death arrived so abruptly. I would never want a mother, even the mother of my son’s killer, to live in the pain that I suffer daily as I try to adjust to my new norm. My goal is to be an advocate and to transition my pain into purpose. My son’s death will not be in vain. I am in Charlotte, North Carolina, and my son died in Hagerstown, Maryland.

Brince “BJ” Shaw Jr.

It was early Good Friday morning when time stopped for me. I was at work, and my phone rang. It was my ex-mother-in-law calling and saying there were three police officers at her home looking for Brince. I was somewhat confused because no one called him Brince. I responded, “Your Brince, or my BJ?”

She replied, “I don’t know,” and then the phone hung up. I began calling his phone number. It rang over and over again; his so-called friend answered and said “He’s gone, he’s gone, he’s gone.” I was puzzled, confused and curious about what “gone” actually meant. As I stood there and connected the dots within my own head, I realized it was my son BJ; she couldn’t tell me.

He followed his friend to a park to fight the men, pulled up drove around, pulled out the gun from the passenger-side window. Shots rang out; a bullet hit BJ in the heart, murdering him; the other one hit his shoulder. BJ just had his 21st birthday. Now, we honor him in March in April. The day he was born into the world and also day he was taken out of this world. Now we live with the ripple effects.