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Mendell Butler-Lebel

Despite becoming parents at the tender age of 18, Mendell’s dad and I made a commitment to ensure our children’s success, regardless of the struggles we endured. Our oldest child Mendell was an aspiring attorney, enrolled in his high school’s prestigious four-year criminal justice program. The day after his 17th birthday, he was enjoying the company of friends and neighbors in the parking lot of our residential community when a vehicle passed them, made a U-turn and shot up the entire parking lot. Two adults were gravely wounded. Mendell was shot once in his upper shoulder, from where the bullet traveled, collapsing his lungs and lodging, fatally, into his chest cavity. Due to the “code of the streets,” the adults that were shot but survived are refusing to cooperate, as they don’t want to be labeled as a neighborhood snitch. Unfortunately, this type of injustice is considered the “norm” within our communities, but I’ve always considered our homes and schools safe havens for our children.

Although Mendell was robbed of completing his senior year, he was awarded all honors, including his high school diploma. Mendell’s high school graduation tassel means the world to his father and I, who are still seeking justice in his homicide. It is a testament to all that we instilled and poured into him to ensure his future would be bright, fulfilled and unrestricted. Having him stolen in such a horrific manner, being forced to accept that his dreams and goals will never come to fruition, are earth-shattering realities that impede our very existence. I love him with every breath in me. Until we meet again, my beloved son Mendell…

Reacting shows support for gun violence survivors.