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Jarren Peterson Dean

In memory of James Cole

My boyfriend, James Cole, was devoted to his family and a fiercely loyal friend. He was always there for the people he loved. He was serious and shy, but was the life of the party around his close friends and family. His smile lit up the room. Even at the age of 23, he dreamed of being a father.

On a quiet Sunday in the fall of 2014, James decided to meet up with some friends. I never saw him alive again. He offered a friend a ride home that night, and ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time. James’s friend asked him to stop at a house on the way home to pick something up. James agreed. James stayed in the car while his friend approached the house. Police said James’s friend had apparently robbed the house the week before. When the people inside spotted him, one of them drew a sawed-off shotgun and started shooting. James was shot in the head and the neck. A witness reported that James’s last words were,” I want to go home.”

I grew up in a picture-perfect family, in a picture-perfect neighborhood. I heard about gun violence on the news, but never even considered that it could happen to me. It is much easier to disconnect yourself from the issue when you don’t know anybody who has been affected by gun violence. That’s why it’s so important as a survivor to share my story. I’m an everyday, average person and James’s shooting death completely changed my life. No one is immune to gun violence. Now is the time to act, before it’s too late, before it happens to you.

Reacting shows support for gun violence survivors.