Yesterday was a sobering day.
News of the death of Tyron Davis reached us early in the day. He was the 18-year-old who was shot in the parking lot of the Middle River McDonalds in December. It was not a stray bullet but, horrifically, a bullet at close range to the back of his head. We at unCuffed only knew Tyron for a short period at the jail, but we know his close friend Ty*, who is heartbroken by the violent death of someone who meant a lot to him. I never lost a friend to a shooting and so cannot imagine the menagerie of feelings one would fare at such a time.
As I reflected on this shooting, I met with my mentee, Crystal* on 4T of the jail. I asked her if she had known anyone who had been shot. When she replied in the affirmative, I asked her how many. She asked me for my pen and began to create a list that took way too long to write. On this list were names of 5 people who survived their injuries as well as 12 who had passed away, ranging in ages from 16 to 29 years. Once again, I cannot imagine being only 19 years old and knowing so many people (including one close friend) who were involved in a gun-related injury or death.
Then at Hickey, I was surprised that Ricky* returned to our Tuesday night Bible study. Last week, he was sarcastic, tough, resistant and aloof. Last night he sat on the sidelines outside the meeting space and needed some coaxing to come in the circle. During our small group time, his spirit was closed down as he barely participated in our discussion.
But as we talked about God rescuing us from pain, something clicked and he began opening up. He put words to the sadness he was carrying. He explained that he had nothing. He opened his hand to count the people he no longer had in his life–tragic losses of a mom, sister, niece, nephew and an uncle who was shot 6 times, and no dad in his life. When I asked him who he lived with, his response was “my aunt, but she doesn’t want anything to do with me.” As we departed from the housing unit and made our long walk to the car, George, Rob and I reflected on the tragedy of Ricky’s family life and his striving to find some hope, even when he had no people in his life to belong to. His story was sobering: there was no comparison between his 6 losses and our own secure, nurturing homes and families.
Still, the amazing thing that did happen that Tuesday night is that Ricky decided to leave the side lines and to let us in, even in a small way. Even in such a challenging day, we are able to hear juveniles’ pain and pray that God will give them healing and hope.