Nov 102013
 
Cathy Rickmon (left) and Martha Bullock (right) sit on the porch where their sons Orlando “Lanny” Rickmon and Desmond O’Neal Bell were murdered on April 23, 2013. "Losing a child is like losing half a heart," said Rickmon. (Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

Cathy Rickmon (left) and Martha Bullock (right) sit on the Baudin St. porch where their sons Orlando “Lanny” Rickmon and Desmond O’Neal Bell were murdered on April 23, 2013. “Losing a child is like losing half a heart,” said Rickmon. (Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

Cathy Rickmon and Martha Bullock had been casual friends for years, but a burst of violence in Mid-City sealed their fates together forever.

“We weren’t close until the tragedy of our sons,” Rickmon said.

“We will always have a bond because someone who we loved, that we loved very dearly, was lost on the same day,” said Bullock. Continue reading »

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Nov 102013
 
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Margaret Washington sits in her daughter Marguerite LaJoy Washington’s room, while holding LaJoy’s McMain graduation gown and medal for Physics. LaJoy was shot and killed while visiting her new boyfriend’s home just months after graduating from high school. “She loved stuffed animals,” said Washington while sitting in her daughter’s pink room.  (Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

Marguerite LaJoy Washington came to her adoptive mother Margaret Washington at 3 months old, and from the beginning she was the family’s princess.

“She was my shadow,” said Washington, a former nursing instructor. “She grew up in my church, in my sorority, at Charity school of nursing, with my nursing alumni group. Wherever I was, she was there. It allowed her to be exposed to positive things, positive values and allowed her to get maturity much earlier then the average child.” Continue reading »

Nov 102013
 
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Ann Dimes stands where she last saw her son Danny Joseph Robert, remembering how it felt to hug him goodbye. Minutes after saying goodnight to her son, he was shot seven times in the face just blocks from where they had just been. “My life changed from that minute to this moment, to try to do the right thing toward my son, tell his story through all the hurt and pain. It came happen to any mother just like this,” said Dimes.   (Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

On a May evening in 2011, Ann Dimes stood outside a Ninth Ward home with her 26-year-old son, Danny Joseph Roberts. Roberts had been through a bout with a kidney stone, and Dimes, a surgical technician, wanted to check on him.

Danny, a longshoreman since the age of 16 years old, had just gotten a settlement check from the BP oil spill and felt on top of the world in spite of his medical problems. His mother reminded him he needed to keep his car door locked, but he brushed her concerns off by telling her to give him a hug. Then his phone rang.

A voice on the other end of the line – one Dimes has never identified, but will never forget overhearing – asked to borrow a shirt to wear to the club. Danny told his mother he loved her and would see her the next day, so she turned around, closed the door and went inside.

Minutes later, Dimes’ own phone began ringing – Danny was dead, shot seven times in the face just blocks from where they had last hugged goodbye.

“I am not the same person,” Dimes said. “It haunts me all the time. I just can’t understand the purpose of killing him that way.” Continue reading »

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Nov 102013
 
Linn James says a prayer to her son Christopher Guilbeau Jr. and tells him she loves him while visiting his grave in Avondale on Oct. 28, 2013. (Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

Lynn James says a prayer to her son Christopher Guilbeau Jr. and tells him she loves him while visiting his grave in Avondale on Oct. 28, 2013. (Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

When 26-year-old Christopher Guilbeau Jr. was shot on Elysian Fields Avenue in 2007, he survived but was stricken blind. When he suddenly died from his injuries in 2009, it was his mother’s life that plunged into darkness.

“The people who are doing the murdering are not just hurting the mothers and the fathers of the child they are hurting,” Lynn James said. “They are hurting generations of people. They are hurting those young men’s children and cousins and nephews and grandparents. You are hurting a whole world of people who you will never know because of something senseless.” Continue reading »

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Oct 182013
 
The members of "Helping Mothers Heal" gather in a prayer circle at one of their weekly meetings on September 26, 2013. Helping Mothers Heal is a group of mothers who have lost a child to violence. (Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

The members of “Helping Mothers Heal” gather in a prayer circle at one of their weekly meetings on September 26, 2013. Helping Mothers Heal is a group of mothers who have lost a child to violence. (Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

The grief that follows the loss of a child to violence is one of the most unbearable burdens life can impose on a mother. It is one of life’s mysteries, then, that by gathering a dozen such heavy souls in one room, the burden on all of them becomes lighter.

“It hurts deeply to lose a kid, and you just don’t know why,” said Ann Dimes, a member of the “Helping Mothers Heal” group at the Watson Teaching Ministries on St. Charles Avenue. “So you reach out to another mother, another sister … because life is precious. Life will continue to go on.” Continue reading »

Sep 152013
 
The casket  of 11-year-old Arabian Gayles is carried into the back of a hearse at the Prayer Tower Church of God in Christ on Willow St. Saturday. Gayles was shot multiple times, including in the head, after gunmen opened fire on a house in the 1300 block of General Ogden Street on Labor Day Weekend.  Two others were shot, but their injuries were not life threatening. (Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

The casket of 11-year-old Arabian Gayles is carried into the back of a hearse at the Prayer Tower Church of God in Christ on Willow St. Saturday afternoon. Gayles was shot multiple times, including in the head, after gunmen opened fire on a house in the 1300 block of General Ogden Street on Labor Day Weekend. Two others were shot,  including her 11-year-old cousin, but they both survived. (Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

Ashley Moffet, mother of Arabian Gayles, arrives at the Prayer Tower Church of God in Christ for her daughters funeral Saturday morning.  (Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

Ashley Moffet, mother of Arabian Gayles, arrives at the Prayer Tower Church of God in Christ for her daughter’s funeral Saturday morning. (Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

Continue reading »

Sep 072013
 
"I was there for her first steps. It hurts so much. The hurt won't stop. But she was a bundle of joy. She wouldn't want to see us cry," said  Keion Reed, while speaking at the funeral of his 1 year-old daughter Londyn Samuels at New Hope Baptist Church Saturday morning.  Samuel's was shot to death in her babysitterÕs arms on Saratoga Street on Thursday, August 29, 2013. (Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

“I was there for her first steps. It hurts so much. The hurt won’t stop. But she was a bundle of joy. She wouldn’t want to see us cry,” said Keion Reed, while speaking at the funeral of his 1 year-old daughter Londyn Samuels at New Hope Baptist Church Saturday morning. Samuels was shot to death in her babysitter’s arms on Saratoga Street on Thursday, August 29, 2013. (Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

The funeral for Londyn Samuels, the 1-year-old who was shot to death last week while in her babysitter’s arms, was held Saturday morning at New Hope Baptist Church on LaSalle Street.

Andrea Samuels (far right), mother of Londyn Samuels, cries as she looks at her daughter in her casket at the funeral Saturday morning. "She was extraordinary," said Samuels about her daughter. (Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

Andrea Samuels (far right), mother of Londyn Samuels, cries as she looks at her daughter in her casket. “She was extraordinary,” said Samuels about her daughter. (Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

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Sep 052013
 
Reginald Cannon serves a fish entree to a customer at Cafe Reconcile's Central City facility on Thursday afternoon. CafŽ Reconcile works to resolve the deeply ingrained social ills of poverty, violence, and neglect by providing at-risk young people, ages 16 to 22, with the skills and confidence necessary to get and retain career-track jobs in New OrleansÕ thriving hospitality sector.  (Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

Reginald Cannon serves a fish entree to a customer at Cafe Reconcile’s Central City facility on Thursday afternoon. CafeŽ Reconcile works to resolve the deeply ingrained social ills of poverty, violence, and neglect by providing at-risk young people, ages 16 to 22, with the skills and confidence necessary to get and retain career-track jobs in New Orleans thriving hospitality sector. (Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

On Thursday morning, Cafe Reconcile celebrated the completion of the renovations and expansion of its building on Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard with a dedication and blessing ceremony, attended by the top city officials, the program’s founders, and the at-risk young people who work there.

Ryan Dalton, a 2009 graduate of the Cafe Reconcile job training program, speaks at the building dedication and blessing. Dalton was shot three times his first week in the Cafe Reconcile job training program. Today he serves on the Mayor's team as the NOLA FOR LIFE Midnight Basketball coordinator for the City of New Orleans. "Invest in a young person and see what their potential is," said Dalton. (Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

Ryan Dalton, a 2009 graduate of the Cafe Reconcile job training program, speaks at the building dedication and blessing. Dalton was shot three times his first week in the Cafe Reconcile job training program. Today he serves on the Mayor’s team as the NOLA FOR LIFE Midnight Basketball coordinator for the City of New Orleans. “Invest in a young person and see what their potential is,” said Dalton. (Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

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Sep 042013
 

Family and friends of Arabian Gayles comfort each other on General Ogden Street in west Carrollton Tuesday night. Gayles was killed by gunfire on the house, while she was sleeping. The shooting wounded two others in the house. (Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

After the second death of a New Orleans child by stray gunfire in less than a week, the vigil for 11-year-old Arabian Gayles in west Carrollton on Tuesday was full of strong emotions from hundreds of attendees.

Mother of Arabian Gayles, Ashley Moffet, is comforted as she cries for her daughter during a community vigil on General Ogden Tuesday night. Gayles was killed while sleeping from open gunfire on the house. The shooting wounded two others in the house. (Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

Ashley Moffet, the mother of Arabian Gayles, is comforted as she cries for her daughter during a community vigil on General Ogden Tuesday night. (Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

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Sep 022013
 
A neighbor drops off a small teddy bear at the home where an 11 year old girl was fatally shot early Monday. (Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

A neighbor drops off a small teddy bear at the home where an 11 year old girl was fatally shot early Monday. (Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

Children look at broken glass on the front door of the home where a shooting claimed the life of an eleven year old girl. (Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

Children look at broken glass on the front door of the home where a shooting claimed the life of an eleven year old girl. (Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

An 11-year-old girl died Monday and two other people were wounded after several gunmen opened fire on the west-Carrollton home where they were all sleepign, New Orleans police said. Continue reading »

Aug 302013
 
Parents of Londyn Samuels Keion Reed and Andrea Samuels hold each other at the vigil. (Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

Parents of Londyn Samuels Keion Reed and Andrea Samuels hold each other at the vigil.
(Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

The day after a 1-year-old was shot to death in her babysitter’s arms on Saratoga Street sent a cascade of strong emotions coursing through Central City.

At dawn, neighbors awoke to an armed standoff at a Central City home involved in the investigation. The day progressed with an intense burst of grief from the child’s parents and their supporters at Cafe Reconcile, followed by an angry denunciation from city leaders for the lack of information in the case, and ended at dusk with a vigil mourning the slain child.

“She was my world,” said her father, 20-year-old Keion Reed, in a brief public address Friday afternoon. “She was my everything. She was my reason for getting up in the morning.” Continue reading »

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Jan 202011
 

Latisa Lewis, mother of Errol Meeks, speaks at a vigil for her son at the shooting site on Freret near Dufossat Street. Meeks, 19, was fatally shot Monday night while exiting Friar Tuck's bar. "I really appreciate the love that you are showing my son right now. It makes me feel better to know that I wasn't the only one that loved him, my ma wasn't and that my immediate family wasn't the only one that loved him. I see he is loved by the community and he was a good baby. I know he is with the Lord right now and I am going to miss him dearly, because he was my first boy ," said Lewis, between tears. (Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

In the faces of a hundred mourners, the grief and regret looming over Freret Street was illuminated by candlelight Wednesday night before a small memorial, a bare tree guarded by a little white picket fence and hung with teddy bears, balloons, flowers and a photo of a slain teenager in his favorite red cap.

Inconsolable sadness, uncontrollable anger, caution, duty, dismay and respect were all on display in the crowd, reflecting the widening sphere of damage since the life of 19-year-old Errol Meeks ended in gunfire late Monday night. Continue reading »

Jan 152011
 

Candles, memories, music and dance marked a vigil for Mariah Woods at Xavier University Preparatory Friday night. Woods was home from Northwestern State University for the holidays when a suspect in a drug case fleeing from police caused a crash at the intersection of Freret and Milan streets that killed her.

Mariah Woods' high school graduation photo sits next to candles lit at a vigil for her at Xavier University Preparatory Friday night. Woods graduated last year from the school. She was very dedicated to journalism and education and aspired to become a journalist, according to Principal Carolyn Oubre. Students at the school got together and raised money for the Mariah Woods Book Scholarship that will be given out at the end of the year awards ceremony and recognized at graduation. The students have already raised $308.12 towards the scholarship fund. (Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

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