'His memory will never die:' 33 children have been shot in Durham since 9-year-old Z'Yon Person's death one year ago

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Z'yon Person's family will visit his memorial this week, one year since he was shot and killed, his young life taken tragically early.

They spoke to ABC11 exclusively on Tuesday as they fought back tears.

"It's of pain and sorrow," Sandra Person, Z'yon's grandmother, said. "There's a hole. There's something missing. That was taken so tragically. Just taken for nonsense, for no reason."

A year after Z'yon Person's death, his grandmother and grandfather, Sandra and Gary, say they will try to celebrate his life.

Like special memories of little Z'yon begging Sandra to make his favorite meal.

"You know I want my ham. You know I want my greens and my vinegar," Sandra laughed.

But the heartbreak of losing Z'yon always returns.

The 9-year-old was once a rising 4th grader and football fanatic, who was excited to play quarterback for his youth league, but was killed just the week before.

Family, friends honor 9-year-old killed in shooting on what would have been his 10th birthday
EMBED More News Videos

On what would have been Z'Yon Person's 10th birthday, family and friends gathered in Raleigh to remember him.

Last year, Z'yon, and his relatives were on their way to get Pelican's SnoBalls, when bullets flew through their vehicle at Duke and Leon Streets.

Two children were hit.

Z'yon was the only casualty, taking a bullet to the head.

2 more suspects charged with murder in death of 9-year-old Z'Yon Person in Durham

"Z'yon's sister -- she has to relive that day because she was sitting right next to her brother and he fell right in her lap," Sandra said.

Investigators have not said if the shooting was random or targeted. In previous interviews, Police Chief C.J. Davis has said she's shifted resources to tackle the city's gang problem, and she says there's an issue with illegal guns in the community.

Shootings haven't slowed in Durham since Z'yon's death.

According to a Durham police estimation, aggravated assaults are up 50 percent from this time last year.

Homicides are down nearly 13 percent.

The department says 266 people have been shot since Z'yon's death -- 33 of them were children 17 years old or younger.

"A gun don't make a man," said Gary Person, Z'yon's grandfather. The boy affectionately called him 'Pop-Pop'.

"Taking care of child makes a man. Not taking a child," he said.

Antonio Davenport, Derrick Dixon and Dival Magwood are charged with murder.

Last Thursday, Davenport was scheduled to go before a judge for a bond release while awaiting trial. That request is temporarily postponed.

Z'yon's family is thankful.

"There are plenty of them out here with horrible records and still running around here. And they're part of the problem. That's where the system failed," Sandra said.

The family asking the community to stop the violence as they continue to grieve Z'yon and what the community has lost.

"His memory will never die," Gary said.
Copyright © 2021 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.