MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Seventeen years ago Jacqueline Washington lost a child to gun violence.
Years later, her family continues to work to urge the community to stop using guns to hurt one another.
“All my brothers and sisters shooting each other (that) needs to be cut out,” Washington said. “We need to come together and love each other.”
Washington’s daughter, Rickia Isaac — just 5 years old — was hit by a stray bullet and killed while walking home from a Martin Luther King Day celebration in 1997. Several people were charged in her murder. Isaac was murdered on Jacqueline Washington’s birthday and her pain is as fresh as ever.
“I have to turn the tv off because I cry,” Washington said, when asked how painful it is knowing that there are still many gun crimes afflicting our communities.
Rickia’s uncle — Reverend Jerome Starling — said Dr. King’s message goes hand in hand with the lasting message from Rickia’s murder and he urged the community to support a call to action.
“Dr. King was a peacemaker and we’re just asking the community to pledge to be peacemakers in our community because we’re sick and tired of the gun violence,” Starling said.
A candlelight vigil and prayer service were held at the Jordan Grove Missionary Baptist Church on Monday night. Dozens of children participated in the event, all of whom were too young to remember Rickia’s death. Parents and grandparents say children are exposed to so much violence at a young age and work needs to be done to keep them focused on things that matter — like education.
“I want them to grow up with the knowledge that gun violence is not the answer,” said resident Sharon Ladson. “I want them to grow up with the knowledge that education is the key.”
Though the crowd was small those in attendance hoped the message that guns kill would be heard far and wide. And as each candle was extinguished, they prayed that the message of Rickia’s senseless murder would make a difference.
Many suggestions were made to continue working to reduce gun violence like looking for warning signs among our children, making sure children remain in school and that if you see something troubling in your community, say something about it.