Twenty-three-year-old Mark Womack, my brother, was killed while walking in Olde Town Slidell, Los Angeles, on Christmas night 2014. A fight had spilled out of a bar, on to the street, when a gunman fired off a handgun into the crowd. Police said Mark Womack got caught in the crossfire. He was one of two men killed and six injured by the gunman shooting into a crowd of people.
Jamieon Chatman, the gunman, pleaded guilty to two counts of manslaughter in the deaths of Errol “Ro” Scott, 22, and Mark Womack, 23. There was no trial, and the gunman was not convicted of murder because a man open carrying a gun could be seen in the crowd. This allowed the gunman to use “stand your ground” as a defense to negotiate a plea deal for manslaughter.
Although the justice system failed us, the community has worked to keep Mark’s memory alive. Seven student scholarships have been awarded in Mark’s memory by family and friends. We continue honor him by fighting for sensible gun laws and hope to keep other families from experiencing such tragedy.