About 200 people marched in Liberty City Monday night to mourn 6-year-old King Carter, a Miami-Dade first-grader who was killed days earlier by a stray bullet while he played outside.
They cried, prayed and chanted King’s name in a collective act of grief for the little boy who wanted to grow up to be a police officer.
“It really hurts when they do this to a kid,” said Ann Gibson, who joined the marchers. “I’m sick of it. Sick, sick, sick of it.”
Mothers pushed strollers and fathers held their children on their shoulders as the crowd streamed into Charles Hadley Park, where one woman said King played peewee football. They got on their knees and prayed for stronger families, fewer guns and the courage to call in tips on King’s case.
A man identified as King’s grandfather gathered his surviving grandkids around him.
“This is a cancer. It’s an epidemic. We have to stop it,” he told the crowd. “Unfortunately, it landed on my doorstep. It may land on your doorstep tomorrow.”
King was playing with friends Saturday afternoon in Blue Lake Village, the apartment complex at Northwest 103rd Lane and 12th Avenue that is locally known as Colors. The smiley boy who loved chewy candy got caught in a hail of bullets when, police said, a group of young men got into a gunfight in broad daylight.
The little boy was airlifted to Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital, where he died.
On Monday, the community continued to grieve for King.
In the afternoon, a group of eight pastors and community activists gathered at FDLE headquarters and said they would collect money from their congregations to increase the reward offered for tips in the case. Pastor Eric Readon had a $1,000 check with him.
At the march, King’s father, Santonio Carter, called for criminals to put down their guns. He said he would serve as a father to any young men in the community who don’t have support at home.
“Ya’ll can call me,” he said. “It’s time to build up.”
Then Carter led the crowd in chanting his son’s name.
Denise Burney said her grandson played football with King. He found out from the news that his friend had been killed.
“He’s like, ‘Grandma, why does this happen? Why do they hurt each other,’” she said. “I tell him there are some bad people.”
In Miami-Dade County, at least three teens have been murdered so far this year, including a 15-year-old whose lifeless body was photographed and videoed by bystanders. In the previous three years, about 100 kids and teenagers have been killed by gunfire. Many more have been shot and survived.