WASHINGTON — After three young kids were shot in the Washington Metropolitan area in three days, a crisis therapist who lost her own daughter to gun violence is calling for change.
On Sunday around 11 p.m., Prince George's County Police said a six-year-old was shot while he was in a Capitol Heights apartment. He survived.
Less than 24 hours later, Monday around 6:15 p.m., PGPD said a three-year-old boy was shot while his mom and he were visiting an apartment. Police said he has died from his injuries.
Then, Tuesday night, a mom and her four-year-old son were shot in northwest D.C. after an argument over a scooter, according to D.C. Police. Both were in critical condition at last check, and as of Wednesday evening, police said there were no updates to their condition.
"It just is breaking my heart to watch the news every night to see that yet another person was shot, another person was killed," Tyreese McAllister, a crisis therapist who lost her daughter to gun violence said. "We are walking around in a community that doesn't give us safety. Everybody has a right to community safety."
McAllister lost her 18-year-old daughter, Ayana in March 2017 when she was home from college. She said she was hanging out with her sister and some friends not too far from home when someone started shooting.
She said a bullet hit Ayana and later killed her. Police have never found the shooter, and she said just last month, they notified her they would be classifying her case as cold.
"It doesn't feel good for it to be a cold case. But I understand that there are a lot of homicides in the district ... If that person was alone, we may never know unless somebody would be willing to say that somebody had admitted to shooting and they want to turn it over," McAllister said. "But there is a culture of not snitching and not telling."
So when she sees news of more children being shot, it affects her.
"I operate currently with a broken heart. I don't think my heart will ever be mended. But it's almost like every day is shattered even more," McAllister said. "Because when I see that a child has been killed, I know what that mother is getting ready to go through."
From her perspective as a mother of a gun violence victim and a crisis therapist, she concurs with other leaders who have termed gun violence a public health crisis. In fact, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser made that declaration official back in February.
"We have to have a public health response to it," she said. "People are hungry. People are in despair. People don't have any hope. People don't have the skills they need. They don't have conflict resolution skills. They don't know how to manage their anger. They don't know how to delay gratification. So those are some of the things that really make other people more violent and more at risk."
McAllister also works with Moms Demand Action to push for legislative change — namely with restricting access to guns.
"We have to go after the gun, we have to go after the gun manufacturers and the gun sellers, the people who are bringing guns into our community," she said. "I saw some children carry guns, not to menace, but to keep themselves safe. But if you have a child who has access to a gun, and that same child has poor emotional regulation, anger management and poor conflict resolution skills, that is a disaster waiting to happen."
She said it will take a village banding together to help cure the societal issues that lead to this violence — but she's ready to work if others will join her.
McAllister has written a children's book to help kids process losing loved ones to homicides. She said she also has a new one coming out to help adults learn how to cope and help their kids do the same.
Police are still searching for the gunmen in the shooting of the six-year-old and mother and son. In reference to the three-year-old killed, detectives are looking into whether or not the shooting was accidental.
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