An average of 7 American kids ages 0-19 are killed by guns daily. These are some of the mothers they've left behind.
Sandra Frank's 18-year-old son, Teshawn, was shot 17 times while handing out flyers for his daughter's fourth birthday party. Before he hit the ground, he called out Sandra's phone number and said "Call my mother." A motive for his shooting has never been discovered.
"I don’t understand people who say that this happens all the time, so you shouldn’t be surprised by it. Or who feel like this is something that can’t happen to them. None of those bullets have a name on them. Violence can fall anywhere."
Nicole Hockley's son, Dylan, was 6-years-old when he was killed in The Sandy Hook Elementary shootings, December 2012. Her surviving son is Dylan's older brother, Jake.
“I thought I knew what pain looked like. The first image that comes to my mind when i think about pain now is Jake’s face when my husband told him that Dylan had been killed. He just howled. I’d never heard a child make that kind of noise before. It was horrific. Watching someone’s heart literally break physically hurts. It’s not just anguish, it’s not just an emotion, it’s a physical pain."
Oxsana Naumkin's 11-year-old son, Nicholas, was killed when a playmate found his father's loaded semi-automatic weapon in an unlocked drawer.
"We didn’t know that by the time we would arrive at the hospital, all Nicholas's brain activity would be gone. The only things keeping him alive were the machines he was hooked up to. Eventually they disconnected the machines and told us that he would breath for a while on his own and then, whenever he was ready, he’d just go. I sat there for 22 minutes with my head on his heart and I could feel and hear it beating. It was torture. I knew that at any moment it could stop, and at 2:29 a.m. on December 23, 2010, it did. That was it. The love of my life, my pride and joy was gone.
Shianne Norman’s 4- year-old son, Christopher, was killed in crossfire while playing on a playground during a Bar-B-Que for friends and family. Shianne is pictured with her oldest child, Amya.
“When the shooting started, a big crowd of people turned towards me and started to run away. I turned to face them and ran towards the bullets, knowing that Christopher was in the playground where the shots were coming from. That’s when I saw the bottom of Chris’s sneakers on the ground. I jumped over the gate and found my son with a bullet hole in his head. With Chris’ passing, I lost a part of my soul. There is also a feeling of guilt that will never go away; that I failed as a mother. You don’t bury your children. Your children bury you.
Each side of the gun fight says they only started shooting because the other started first. In the bigger picture, all four of them murdered my son that night. When you start shooting a gun, there is no perfect plan. ”
Diana Rodriguez's daughter, Samantha, was 18 when she was killed by random street violence while walking to the bus stop with her friends.
Ten years after Samantha’s death, I keep meeting mothers in this loneliest club that nobody wants to be a member of. You wanna know why it’s so lonely? Because nobody believes you that there’s something really wrong! People are protecting these guns more than they are the value of a life. I hear a lot of talk, but I haven’t seen the action behind the talk. And in the midst of them talking and deciding what they’re gonna do, our children is dying.
There have been been so many times we’ve gone in front of politicians, presidents, congress and we’re begging them to save our children! This is not about bashing people. It’s about something’s not right. We’re loosing our babies. They’re not safe in movie theaters, in church, in schools. They’re not safe! Because there’s so much mental illness going on, and people are sick in the heart.
With rights comes responsibility and accountability. I don’t see a lot of being accountable for what’s happening in our communities to our children.
Natasha Christopher's 14-year-old son Akeal was followed from a party and shot, execution style, in the head. He died on what would have been his 15th birthday.
I’m just a single mom who was struggling to do the best I could to make sure my kids had a good life. I knew what was happening on the streets. I thought if I instilled good values in my son, got him a good education, raised him to respect his elders, to respect the police, that this would never happen to him.
Sometimes I say in the urban community that it’s us killing us and we need to address those issues. But we need to also address the issue of where are these illegal guns coming from? States like Georgia. Virginia. It’s been three years since somebody put a bullet in the back of Akeal's head and how many countless others have died at the hands of illegal guns since him?
One of my children still wakes up in the middle of the night screaming for Akeal. For the one thing he will never get back.
I miss my son’s smile. I miss his scent. I miss everything about him. People say that I’m strong, but that’s just the shell. Inside, I am broken. A part of me will always be broken.
Maxine E. Lewis's 16-year-old son, Locklsey, was killed at a party because someone wanted his gold chain.
I call that pain “the madness.” Sometimes I wanted to go out onto the street and just keep running.
When you kill someone, it’s not only him you rob the world of. You rob what he was going to do. The changes he was going to make. The wife and children he was supposed to have. What he would be doing for society. All these things are just taken away. You destroy a community. You wipe out a part of history.
You have to watch out, you can become what destroy you if you’re not careful. I was in so much rage, I felt like I could kill the shooter, Locksley’s friends who left him at the party, everyone and I wouldn’t even blink an eye.
Here I am 23 years later. I started The Carlton Locksley Bennett Foundation to keep my son’s name alive and to help other young people. We have provided tuition, scholarship, clothing and school supplies to over 200 students who have been effected by urban violence. We let them know we love them. We work with the mothers too. At the end of the day, mothers just want to know their kids are ok.