Mothers, fathers, grandparents, teachers and children stopped traffic on busy Northwest 103rd Street on Thursday evening screaming “King Carter!” — in remembrance of the 6-year-old boy who was killed last Saturday afternoon by a stray bullet as he went to buy candy.
“We are taking back the streets,” said King’s uncle Centawn Kennedy. “We’ve gotta make it safe for our children.”
King’s death has sparked outrage, combined with the killing Wednesday of a 17-year-old boy walking down the sidewalk in a nearby neighborhood. Countywide, close to four dozen children or teenagers, most of them in poor neighborhoods, have lost their lives to gunfire since January 2015.
Our children are dying because they need help.
11-year-old Aziz Muhammad, at a community forum Thursday night titled, “How to Stop the Shooting.”
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“Our children are dying because they need help,” 11-year-old Aziz Muhammad said at a community forum Thursday night titled “How to Stop the Shooting.” Aziz, who came with his father, stood in front of dozens in the packed auditorium of the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center in Northwest Miami-Dade and choked back tears:
“They need advice from the elders, but sometimes the elders are ignorant. They don’t want to teach the young ones anything.
“I see my younger brothers and children,” he said, his voice breaking. “I see how they play, and when I hear about them dying or getting killed or they are killing each other — I think, ‘What went wrong?’ ”
The Miami-Dade County Community Relations Board asked young people that question at the forum, soliciting solutions for stopping the violence. Some common themes emerged: Stronger parenting, learning to love one another and providing more after-school programs to keep kids engaged.
One woman said it was up to the parents to teach their children.
“Raise your kids like you’re supposed to,” said Catrina Brown, who works with the Inner City Youth Enrichment Camp. “It starts in the home.”
Keenan James, 19, said after-school programs will keep kids from picking up guns. He keeps busy through the theater program at Northwestern Senior High.
“Theater is an outlet; it’s an escape,” he said. “I probably would have been dead by now” without it.
James echoes a feeling that many in the community have.
“I’ve lived in Liberty City all my life, and I’ve never seen this type of violence,” James said, adding that his peers show off their guns on social media, posting photos with them.
When asked where the kids are getting the guns, he said, “They have to be from the streets. I doubt a gun shop will sell to kids.”
It’s concerning enough that his mother tells him: “You’re burying me. I’m not burying you.”
The father of King Carter, the 6-year-boy caught in the crossfire Saturday while playing with his friends in front of his apartment, said he will not let his son die in vain. The rallies — Thursday’s rally was the third since the little boy lost his life outside of Blue Lake Village, an apartment complex at Northwest 103rd Lane and 12th Avenue — are only the beginning.
Santonio Carter’s new mission: a Save Our Kings movement.
“We are doing this for every child,” he said. “We are not going anywhere. We need to save our Kings.”
Carter named his movement not only after his son, but after the game of chess, where the King is the most valued piece on the board.
And as Carter grieved for his son — who will be buried Saturday — he lamented the other young men whose lives were taken by guns.
“They are all of our kids,” he said.
Less than two miles away from the rally, dozens gathered Thursday in the courtyard of the Sugar Hill apartment complex to mourn David Goulbarne, 17, who was walking along the sidewalk in front of the two-story, red-and-tan apartments at Northwest 71st Street and 14th Avenue when someone walked up and shot him. The teen stumbled into the apartment complex before he collapsed.
On Thursday afternoon, family members — too devastated to speak — and friends and community leaders gathered to say goodbye to David. Teddy bears and candles filled the sidewalk. People solemnly held signs, one that read, “Violence is a dead end, please stop the gun play.”
Miami-Dade County Commissioner Audrey Edmonson said residents fed up with the violence have spoken to police.
“We know who [the shooter] is,” the commissioner said. “These are kids that have no respect for life.”
Also Thursday, police said they’ve solved yet another shooting that took place on Wednesday.
Antwon Anthony Gilbert, 21, was charged with premeditated attempted murder and two counts of aggravated battery with a firearm for the shooting of 16-year-old Dequan Gordon.
Dequan was shot in the leg in front of his apartment at 7550 NW 19th Ave. at about the same time David was killed just nine blocks away. Witnesses told police and a state prosecutor who was on the scene that Gilbert — known on the street as “Poo Man” — got out of a red Camry, fired twice, then got into the car, fired twice more and fled.
Dequan is expected to recover.
As for King’s case, two teens — Irwen Pressley, 17, and Leonard Adams, 18 — were arrested and charged with second-degree murder. Police are still looking for a third person.
King’s family — who lit candles and wore Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle shirts in the little boy’s honor — had a strong message for the other person: “We are going to find you,” King’s aunt Tawana Akins said.