Derrick Days II was only 10 months old on Feb. 13, 2008, when he was shot to death in Brownsville while sitting on his father’s lap. A bullet fired during a gang shooting fatally pierced Derrick’s chest.
The baby’s father, a professional chef also named Derrick Days, was not hurt, but the man sitting next to him — his best friend, Pierre Roche (the son of a Miami police officer) — also died in the shooting. Two teenage gang members were later convicted and are now doing life sentences.
The infant was laid to rest in a casket that measured 31 inches long. He was wearing a tiny white tuxedo and clutched a pacifier and his beloved Clifford the Big Red Dog.
“Mothers need to come together to help stop the violence,” said his mom, Shiketa Duberry-Days, who works as a police dispatcher at the Miami Springs police department. “The grief I felt was unimaginable.”
After a long bout of depression, Duberry-Days said she mustered the strength to carry on with support from family and friends. She also volunteered and performed community service to raise awareness about gun violence.
Though eight years have passed, Duberry-Days, 32, remembers her son each year around the date of his death, one day before Valentine’s Day.
Duberry-Days outlined the healing process and how she overcame the “impossible” in a cathartic, 26-page self-published book titled, Derrick Danzel Days II Story: Young and Murdered.
“Now it is time for me to help others who are going through the same pain,” Duberry-Days said.
Through her new group, the Derrick Danzel Days II Foundation, Duberry-Days has organized neighborhood events centered on preventing gun violence.
She has joined forces with other activists, religious leaders and police to help stave off the same violence that took her son’s life. She now hopes to encourage other mothers to come together through her group and then take the message back to their respective neighborhoods.
“I want to leave a positive legacy that will be remembered,” Duberry-Days said.
Eric Thompson, a Liberty City community activist, said that neighborhood and Brownsville are facing a crisis as “more young people are getting killed by young people.”
“The only one who can understand such loss is someone who has lost a child, like Shiketa,” Thompson said. “It is great that she is using her son’s death to bring awareness to the community.”
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