The Parents of Murdered Kids want to make sure they’re not forgotten.
Miami-Dade County has been forced to grapple with a steady murder rate of its youngest residents, a trend underlined when 6-year old King Carter was killed in February during a shootout between teens in his apartment complex.
But as community leaders devise ways to keep more kids safe, members of the advocacy and support group say the families left behind by gun violence also need the attention and services of law enforcement and government.
A room at the Northside Miami-Dade Police station was packed with homicide detectives, the police chiefs of Miami and Miami Gardens and elected officials on Tuesday evening to hear the parents’ pleas.
“I need help,” said Neikole Hunt. Her son, Randall Dwaine Robinson III, was gunned down in September, one of at least four Miami Northwestern Senior students killed last year. “I can’t eat. I can’t sleep. I can’t move.”
They say they need more victims advocates and better access to counseling. They say they need police departments that are more responsive – and more sensitive. They say they need programs for the children left without moms and dads.
Most of all, they say they need to see shooters arrested, prosecuted and convicted. Of about a dozen families present, only two said the killers of their children were behind bars.
“How about supporting us to get justice? That’s what we want. That’s what we need,” said Tangela Sears, who started the group after her son was killed in Tallahassee.
Joan Crawford, whose nephew was killed in 2014, called for more aggressive police investigations and prosecution. Cut out the excuses, she said.
“If you got too many cases,” she said, “I hear Burger King is hiring.”
Sears spoke frankly about losing her only child, about suicidal thoughts, being gripped by the need for revenge, even wanting to jump out of a speeding car as she traveled north to collect her son’s body.
“You could not imagine the hurt. The pain,” she said.
Miami-Dade Commissioner Audrey Edmonson told the gathering that elected officials have heard their cries for help. The county hopes to hire four victims advocates, where now there is only one. Miami Gardens Police Chief Antonio G. Brooklen said the city is also looking to add an additional advocate and Miami Police Chief Rodolfo Llanes pledged his support.