After losing her son to gun violence three years ago, Deana Howard made it her mission to bring awareness to the crime.
“It’s just that simple, put the guns down. There’s a lot we can do to push for that, but we don’t have everyone listening,” said Kenya Ballard. Ballard lost four loved ones to gun violence.
Dozens of people gathered to hear the message Sunday. Friends, family and gun violence survivors who live with the aftermath of shootings everyday.
“I can’t visit him. I have to come here and sit in the spot he took his last breath to spend time with him,” said Deana Howard.
Deana Howard’s son, Sean Howard, was 19-years-old when he was shot and killed in the parking lot of the Mist Lake Plaza, near Richmond Road three years ago this week. A 17-year-old boy was arrested for the killing shortly after.
“It’s sad because this is what we have of our children,” Howard said, referencing her son’s memorial.
A memorial now stands in that very spot, giving Howard a place to go when she needs her son.
“I won’t see him graduate college, I won’t see him get married, I won’t ever have grandkids by him. And some of these perpetrators, their families won’t see the same things,” said Howard.
The memorial now also a physical reminder of the lives lost to gun violence. Not just for Howard and her family, but for Nikki Hallett and Kenya Ballard who lost children the same way.
“My son Caleb Hallett was 18 when he was killed,” said Hallett.
“Maryiah, Jakobe in 2016, three months later, my two-year-old granddaughter Nova. And then my stepson was killed,” Ballard said.
While these families will never be the same, Howard uses her pain to try and reach others before it’s too late.
“Trying to teach people this is what we have to come to. If I want to see my son, I come her,” Howard said.
Howard said the trial for the 17-year-old arrested for her son’s killing was supposed to start this month. She’s told it will begin in October, after being postponed five times.