R.I.P. KBH

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.

Kee

On December 5, 2016, I almost lost my life. I suffered two gunshot wounds. I survived. I don’t even know to this day what warranted my home being attacked in that manner. There were eight shots and two different guns. One bullet went in my back and out my chest. It barely missed my spine, and it went between two main arteries by the time it reached my chest. I was also shot in my arm. I suffered broken ribs and nerve damage. Shortly after, I was diagnosed with PTSD.

There was never any resolution or any arrest made. Sometimes I am still scared, knowing that there’s someone out there with no regard for human life. I was not the intended target, just collateral. I stand in support of this initiative because violence is not okay. Gun violence is not okay. Bullets do not have names. I am a survivor of senseless violence.

Tracie R. Garnett

Devin was intelligent, witty and full of life. Being his mother was an honor and a joy. Devin was in Delaware, starting his third year of college, when his life was cut short by senseless violence.

On September 27, 2020, Devin attended a party at a park. Shots were fired, and he was hit by a stray bullet. I received the call that changed my life forever: “Aunt Tracie, we were at a party, and Devin got shot.” We traveled to Delaware to be with him, but he died on September 28, 2020.

Devin was robbed of a bright future filled with love and happiness, and I was robbed of my opportunity to watch my child reach his full potential. Devin didn’t get to celebrate his 21st birthday; he will not graduate from college, find love, or raise a family.

I’m heartbroken, and it’s hard to believe he is really gone. I’m doing my best to carry on without him. I pray that Devin is smiling down on us from Heaven and that he knows he is loved forever and sorely missed.

No arrests have been made as of this post (June 2021).

Imario Ballard

My son Imario was shot and killed in a drive-by shooting on September 15, 2018, in the Back of the Yards neighborhood. Imario was standing in the street, leaning inside the car of his godbrother, when a car came down the street and someone shot him. Imario was the second oldest of nine. He was a fun-loving son, brother, father, uncle, friend and had just recently became a granddad in April. His hobby was working on cars.

My mind constantly takes me back to when I received the call saying he had been shot. I arrived at the hospital and was met by the chaplain (I didn’t know who she was until afterward). I was taken into a room with my other children, who had arrived before me. Next, doctors, nurses, security and detectives entered the room. The doctor sat by me and said, “When your son was brought in, he didn’t have a heartbeat or pulse. We opened him up to resuscitate him, but we were unsuccessful.” It felt like my heart stopped, as I was gasping for air. It was unbelievable that my son was no longer here.

My godson said his last words were, “Call my mama.”

His case is still unsolved.

Your Mom, Britta Brown Whitehead

On September 16, 2019, at 11:16 a.m., my life and the lives of my daughters, Layla and Nea, were forever changed. I received a call that no parent, or no mother, wants to receive. My son, Luis “Lou” Eduardo Zambrana Jr., 20, was murdered at an Exxon in Newport News, Virginia, while purchasing Gatorade.

Just one week earlier, Lou had walked me down the aisle to give me away at my wedding. That is the last time I hugged, kissed, held and smiled at my son.

The man who took my son’s life did not know him and had never met him. His actions rested on the word of someone’s opinion about Lou. We are still waiting for a trial.

At age 4, Lou found a love for drama and music in the church. At age 17, Lou was majoring in theater and drama at Norfolk State University. By April 2019, his talent and passion had emerged, and he was received awards for best actor in a musical and “most improved” actor. His life was taken five months later.

As I continue to try to heal, I made a promise to stand up and talk about gun violence awareness

Meredith Jade Keeton

My father, David, was an outdoorsman, gardener, inventor and avid NRA member and gun collector, having over 50 firearms at one point in his life. As he became physically disabled due to osteonecrosis and more dependent on mobility aids, he felt fearful about the need to protect himself and his family—especially after break-ins and robberies of his home.

I grew up surrounded by paranoia and hyper-vigilance about security, but also love. I learned gun safety from a very young age.

My father had a rocky relationship with the woman he married after my parents divorced, and she planned to leave to pursue another relationship. My father was killed by a gunshot wound to the head during an argument, deemed suicide by the Chilton, Texas, police department. His wife donated the majority of his belongings to Goodwill and left the state before his burial. Her new partner, present during the argument, was not formally questioned.

My father deserved another chapter in his life, and his family deserves to know what actually happened to cause his death. It is too easy to write off gun violence as someone else’s problem, to dismiss these lives, until it’s someone you love.

Leslie Davis

My story begins on June 27, 2013. I was in my car, taking my lunch break to go to a care meeting at the nursing home my mom is in. I realized I missed a call from my oldest son, Vince, and my husband. I called my son back, and he asked, “Have you talked to Dad?” He said, “Call him. Call Dad.”

My husband said, “You need to get here to the hospital.” Now he was crying, “They shot him; they shot AJ.”

Our 18-year-old son, AJ, was shot in a drive-by and died in his brother Vince’s arms as he arrived at his house.

Our lives were turned upside down that day. We lost both of our sons that day. Vince died 18 months later, in a car accident, but he was never the same after that day. Our middle and only living child, Brian, still struggles with PTSD, anger and fear.

AJ was an artist—kind, smart, funny and with a desire to help other young people that he often said were lost. We are pursuing ways to honor him by making his dream come true.

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.

David Cary Hart

My life is forever changed.

I was a hard-charging, successful CEO of a complex organization that included four nonprofit entities and one for-profit company. I had a 30-year relationship with my partner.

Today I could not work as a Walmart greeter due to acute PTSD. I am alone.

The difference between then and now is having been ambushed and shot point-blank in my back, at the direction of an employee, to put the brakes on an internal audit. She succeeded.

In the competition between a .45 caliber bullet and human tissue, the bullet always wins. Proof that two objects cannot exist in the same place at the same time.

Once a bullet enters a human body, it tends to rattle around until it runs out of inertia. In my case, my right hip was destroyed, requiring a total hip replacement.

I walk just fine. It’s my mental health that continues to get worse in spite of fairly continuous treatment and my consumption of medications.

My one suicide attempt resulted in a four-week stay in a psych ward. Before my partner died, I worked very hard at destroying our relationship.

No one has ever been brought to justice. Presumably my shooter was a prohibited carrier.

Laura Brown

My partner and the father of my children was gunned down and killed driving up Central Avenue in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on January 14, 2021. His name is Mark Solano, and he was 37 years old. Our children are 8 and 6 years old, and they are now left without a father. Their hearts, as well as mine, are broken. A senseless act that took a father, son, brother, uncle, nephew, cousin and friend. We love you Mark, forever and ever and ever. We will never let your memory fade. At this time, there is no one in custody.