King Carter’s teammates from the Liberty City Warriors football team wore their yellow-and-black jerseys that bear King’s name. They donned gold crowns on their heads.
The 7- and 8-year-old boys did so to honor their Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle-loving, defensive lineman, who was killed one year ago by a stray bullet while on his way to buy candy in his Northwest Miami-Dade apartment complex.
“We miss him a lot,” said teammate Marcus Smith, 8. “They need to stop shooting cause little kids are getting killed.”
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Family and friends of King gathered Monday evening at a gas station on Northwest 54th Street and 17th Avenue — where there is a mural of King wearing his football jersey painted on the wall — to mark the 6-year-old’s death.
“I can’t believe it’s a year,” said King’s dad Santonio Carter, with his wife Monica standing close by. “A whole year that passed by. It hurts me the most at 2:12, 2:13 in the afternoon cause that’s the time my son asked me for a dollar. I gave him $3 thinking he would come right back like he used to.”
King was killed Feb. 20, 2016, as he walked to the “candy lady” inside Blue Lake Village — known as Colors — at Northwest 103rd Lane and 12th Avenue. He was caught in the crossfire when three teens shot at a rival across the apartment complex.
The feud started on Facebook, police say. Tamar Teems, 16, Irwen Pressley, 17, and Leonard Adams, 18 — await trial, charged with second-degree murder.
The little boy’s death sparked outrage in the community with marches and pledges to stem gun violence. In the months since King’s death, the Carters have rallied against gun violence and given back to the community through the Save Our Kings movement, volunteering at schools and churches.
Santonio said Monday parents need to take care of their children.
“Give these kids truth and love,” he said. “Love them while they are here. Tell them you love them while they living. Don’t wait til they die to give them the love. They can’t feel it when they are dead.”
His teammates held a banner proclaiming, “We Love You King Carter,’’ amid poster-size photos of King in his No 8 football jersey and in his Sunday best. They marched to Charles Hadley Park, where King played football. An arch of silver balloons spelled out King’s name in the middle of the field while the marchers spelled out King’s name in giant gold letters.
The crowd stood quietly holding their balloons.
“We release them in memory of King Carter and we thank you for allowing him the time be with us you did,” said the Rev. Gaston Smith.
On the count of three, the balloons rose up to the sky.