Families share stories, shoes of loved ones lost to gun violence in downtown Lexington
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) – Families who have lost loved ones to gun violence marched to downtown Lexington today in honor of National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims.
Cathy Franco’s story has been told far too often in Lexington lately.
“A girl picked him up … and he had fallen asleep on his couch and someone came into the house and shot Lito three times,” Franco said.
Her son, Israel “Lito” Cruz, was the victim of gun violence in August 2020. Thirteen months and several surgeries later, Lito continues to improve thanks to intensive therapy. His case remains unsolved.
“Justice for him is all we would want,” Franco said. “That’s why we come to these gatherings.
Lito’s family was one of many in attendance to have the audience “walk a mile in their place” by sharing stories and shoes of lost loved ones.
“We don’t want this to happen to someone else, but we see it happening every weekend,” said Jackie Shannon in a speech at the Old Courthouse in downtown Lexington.
Shannon’s grandson Tyler was just 18 when he was murdered in July 2017.
“It’s not a fellowship or a membership that you want to have and that you want someone else to have,” Shannon said.
“When we lose a member of our community, it’s always one too many,” said Ricardo Franklin, community outreach coordinator at the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office.
Franklin lost his brother, Antonio, when he was just 15 years old. He says each pair of shoes on display today had its own special meaning.
“My brother’s shoes mean I’m just going to play basketball in the aisle,” Franklin said.
Franklin said it was something that could happen to anyone, so the rise in violence should affect everyone in the city.
“I think we all share an interest in Lexington and when this happens in our community it should be alarming,” Franklin said. “We should want to end it. “
Lito’s family say he’ll never be the same again, but he’s lucky he’s still alive. They hope, along with Franklin and Shannon, that these events will raise awareness and help resolve cases and stop the shootings.
“I just want the kids to know this isn’t a game here,” said Marco Wray, Lito’s brother. “These guns are not toys, bullets don’t have names.”
A GoFundMe has been created to cover Lito and his medical expenses.
A peace march is also scheduled for October 10 at Duncan Park. The start of the march for peace has not been announced.
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