HYATTSVILLE, Md. — One year later, and the wounds are still fresh for Gerald Watson's family. The 15-year-old was shot to death in southeast D.C. on Dec. 13, 2018.
Family and friends gathered at his grave in Hyattsville, Maryland Friday night to mourn and share memories.
"We still miss him so much," his mom, Kimberly Watson, said. "It just hurts that I got to come here and see you. I got to see a tombstone of my baby."
The weather mirrored the mood--cold, rainy with a sheen of fog surrounding the friends and family who came to honor Gerald.
“I really wish this violence stuff stops," Kimberly said. "Innocent kids getting killed for no reason, it just hurts so bad. I just want everybody to stay positive and just put the guns down. It’s not worth it."
D.C. is approaching last year's homicide total of 160. Police crime data, as of Dec. 13, reports 159 homicides in 2019.
Police said two people chased Gerald down last year and shot him repeatedly in the stairwell leading up to his aunt's apartment. Initial reports showed the killing had to do with a neighborhood beef of some sort.
Even with the evening moored in sadness, Gerald's family has reason to hope for a better future.
On the anniversary of his death, they launched a mentorship program that they hope will save lives. It's called "The Gerald Project."
"Gerald’s Project is a project that’s meant to give every black boy in D.C. a mentor," Gerald's godfather, Darrell Gaston, said. "But also by providing wrap around services for those who have been impacted by homicide. And sometimes when you lose a child and are impacted, you’re not worried about paying your rent…And then third, a scholarship… we need to stop stigmatizing trauma or therapy and be able to talk through things, and so if we talked through this, maybe Gerald would still be here."
To get connected with a mentor, families can text GERALD to 31996.
In regards to the criminal investigation, 16-year-old Malik Holston has been arrested and charged with his murder. At last check, police were still searching for at least one other suspect.
"I just want everybody to move forward," Kimberly said. "That’s what Gerald would want them to do. Like his oldest brother, he graduates this year, and that’s all him and his cousins are saying, who is graduating? We’re doing this for you Gerald."