Mothers of gun violence victims call for safe summer during Youth Violence Prevention Week

Mothers of gun violence victims call for safe summer during Youth Violence Prevention Week
Published: Apr. 25, 2023 at 4:34 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - As the temperatures warm and students prepare for summer break, local leaders are worried about a possible spike in gun violence.

Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton was joined by other advocates to discuss the pain associated with the violent acts and the impact on the community.

It’s been nearly a year since Priscilla Sandifer last talked to her daughter and only child, Amaya.

“I think about the incident that night every single day,” Sandifer said.

The 20-year-old was an innocent bystander, shot and killed on May 7, 2022, while dropping off a friend at a party in Green Acres Park.

Her case remains unsolved.

“I’ll never be able to have grandchildren. Or see her get married. All of those special moments have been taken away from me,” Sandifer said.

In December, Sandifer got a chance to accept Amaya’s college degree from Tennessee State University posthumously.

On this National Youth Violence Prevention Week, Sandifer and other mothers who have lost a child to gun violence offered a warning and urged other parents to be on alert. Have tough conversations. Check-in on their mental health. Know who their friends are.

“Because someone decided that it was their power and their right to take your child,” said one of the mothers Deana Howard.

Howard lost her son Sean in August 2017.

At 19 years old, he was gunned down in a parking lot near Richmond Road.

“Never thought my son going up to Walmart to get batteries would end his death,” said Howard. “Never in a million years.”

The person accused of killing him was found not guilty in 2021.

Howard partnered with One Lexington and Moms Demand Action to advocate for survivors and continues to fight for public safety measures to protect people from gun violence.

“And I’m begging the youth and everyone to please, think about it. Put the guns down. Let’s have a safe and happy Summer.”

According to the City, from 2021 through the first quarter of 2023, Lexington has seen a 75% decrease in gun-related homicides among youth and young adults.