'You never get over it': Mothers of gun violence victims gather for memorial in Durham

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- The mothers of gun violence victims in Durham gathered Saturday for an event at Cook Road Park. The event comes in the midst of a number of deadly shootings rocking the Bull City in the first four months of 2022.

"Nobody's focusing on the little children suffering in silence," organizer Tammie Goodman said.

In 2018, Goodman's son Charleston was kidnapped outside his home on East Woodcroft Parkway. The case remains unsolved. Charleston's daughter at the time just five years old.

A year and a half later, Charleston's godson, 9-year-old Z'yon Person, was shot and killed while in a car to get snow cones in Durham.

"You never get over it basically. You learn to live with it. And you take the memories of that person and you go forward with it," Goodman said. "I thought they would wake up when Z'yon was murdered. I really thought that they would put the guns down and start some love."

In the middle of this field at Cook Road Park the Durham Homicide and Victims of Violent Death Memorial Quilt was placed on display. Each square tells a different story and each family with a similar pain.

"My son was a fun-loving dad, who was very supportive of his children. He worked with his hands a lot. He loved his children. He really adored his children. And to have this impact on them is really hard and difficult to deal with at this time," said Ronda Watson mother of Gun Violence Victim.

Ronda Watson's son Otha Ray was murdered near a Cookout on Hillsborough Road in Durham in September 2020.

"It's personal and it's real. So we have to as a community come together and speak up and do the things that we can to be supportive of one another and to help to quell the violence," Durham Mayor Elaine O'Neal said.

In 2020, the CDC reported North Carolina's firearm mortality rate was 16 deaths for every 100,000 people. The 21st highest in the United States.

That same year, the Gun Violence Archive stated shooting deaths, excluding suicides, increased by more than 25% from 2019.

"When I hear about the murders, I cry. I don't care where it is. I just cry. Even if I don't know them, I cry," Goodman said.
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