LORAIN — On the anniversary of her son’s death, Cassandra Marr walked the last route her son took, surrounded by family and friends.
KeShawnDrae Carter, 19, was shot and killed July 2, 2017, in a drive-by shooting while walking up to his girlfriend’s brother’s house on Beech Avenue and West 22nd Street. He had just left Sunday services at New Mount Calvary Baptist Church.
“We were planning a cookout, so he went over there to invite some folks and there was a drive-by shooter and he unfortunately caught the fatal bullet,” Marr said.
Since then, she has tried to find a way to change her community, but knows the violence will never really stop.
“This is just kind of helping me, this is my way of remembering him,” she said. “My family and friends are here to support me just because they know it’s more than just about me, it’s about our community and what’s going on in our community, especially most recently. And we’re not here to say ‘Stop the violence, put the guns down’ because reality is, it’s not going to happen. But there’s things that we can do within our power to just help other people.”
Under the hot afternoon sun, the group took the last route Carter did, starting at 12:15 p.m. from West 12th Street to West 22nd Street and Beech Avenue, carrying blue and white balloons and wearing shirts with pictures of Carter, called “Key” by his friends.
This anniversary carries an extra weight, with the jury trail for the man charged with Carter’s murder, Gevonte Thomas, 22, of Lorain, set to start July 10.
The group was escorted by Lorain police, with Chief Cel Rivera walking with the family from his childhood neighborhood to where Carter was killed. He said Carter was an innocent victim, in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“They’re doing it in (Carter’s) memory, but I think in my eyes I look at it as in memory of all the youth that we’ve lost,” Rivera said. “Truthfully, in my 49 years we’ve always dealt with certain events, but it seems like the last 10 years it’s always been more our young people. ... I think it’s just important to show solidarity with the families and show them that we’re part of the community. Our officers are also impacted — not like the families — but they get impacted, and so we want to see a reduction in that violence and more respect for each other, so we just want to show our support.”
Marr said having the police support, including the SWAT van bringing up the rear in case anyone was overcome by the afternoon heat, shows “we’re all in this together.”
Marr said this is the largest turnout they have had for the walk, with the first year just her close family and friends taking her son’s final route. She plans to make this an annual event, and hopes to offer giveaways of summer toys and games for young people next year.
“Teachers, administrators, neighbors, cousins, brothers, so many people are affected by what happened,” she said. “Not so much directly, sometimes indirectly, and as a community this is just our demonstration to say we know what’s going on, we care and we’re not going to forget about it,” she said. “We may not (be able to) stop it, but we’re going to do what we can just to say we still know and we’re still doing something.”
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