MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Deadly, tragic and heartbreaking.
In early December, Memphis surpassed an unfortunate milestone of 300 homicides in a year.
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At the beginning of the last week of 2020, there were 330 homicides.
The previous homicide record was set back in 2016 at 228 homicides. That’s a jump of over 100 cases.
Children, mothers and fathers were all taken way too soon. Families across the city have been forced to mourn loved ones.
“Memphis, we must do better,” said Mike Rallings, Memphis Police Director. “We must intervene in the lives of young people. We must intervene in the lives of our brothers and sisters, sometimes our mothers and fathers.”
This was Rallings’ message to Memphians back in September when the city first broke 2016′s record.
Then, there were 27 minors killed. Since then, 4 more children were killed bringing the total to 31.
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Mya Taylor is one of the children whose life was taken this year.
“She was kind of carefree and fun,” said Brianne Sweat, Mya’s sister. “She didn’t talk too much about other people. She was a really good person.”
Mya was a 17-year-old girl who loved to sing and spend time with her sister. She was excited about being so close to graduation before her life was unnecessarily taken on the morning of May 2.
Mya’s mother, Jolanda Wright, said she had just spoken to her before she got the devastating phone call.
“I had took a break,” Wright said. “I had just talked to my baby. We were just laughing and tripping out on the phone. Just like ‘Mya, you’re going to be up when I get off.’”
That was the last time Wright spoke to her baby girl. She said after Mya got off the phone, her and her friend decided to go to McDonald’s. While sitting in the drive-thru, innocently waiting for food, Mya was shot.
“It was just no more than 15 minutes later; I was still in the breakroom,” Wright said. “Her best friend had called me and they was in the car. And she was just… Really, I couldn’t understand it but I understand when she was like Mya got shot. It was really just a shock to me.”
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Mya’s case is one of the many homicide cases in 2020 where families are still waiting for justice.
MPD said a review of security camera video showed the suspect in a gray four-door sedan.
This man was seen getting into the suspect’s vehicle before the shooting happened.
“It had nothing to do with her,” Sweat said. “They don’t even think it was linked to anyone in the car. Like it’s just people just out killing.”
“That’s why I keep giving different rallies and try to engage our community to get involved cause we’re the only ones who can solve this problem,” said Stevie Moore, Freedom From Unnecessary Negatives Founder.
Moore understands Wright’s pain of losing a child. He too lost his son to gun violence.
“I can’t bring my son back but I made a vow 17 years ago to keep this fight going,” Moore said.
Moore has done exactly what he vowed to do. He’s hosted toy drives, “Stop the Violence” rallies and even created an anonymous tip line so anyone who knows something is about to happen can call it in and be confident that the tip is anonymous.
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“We started blaming,” Moore said in reflection. “Law enforcement ain’t doing what they should do. The mayor ain’t doing what they supposed to do. County commission, city council, it’s enough blame to go around. And the problem I got and the question I always ask is: What are you doing?”
Moore encouraged the community to break the cycle and get involved in the community so we can start seeing positive changes.
“We knew this stuff was brewing in our community but we refused to say anything because we have this code in the Black community, snitching get stiches but don’t snitching get you killed,” Moore explained.
Moore knows Memphis can be changed and put on the right path because it happened to him.
“If we could free ourselves from negative behaviors, you’ll get empty jail cells. And it still hold true today. I got out in ’83 and ain’t been back!”
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Moore spends time teaching at prisons also.
“I went to teach where I use to serve time at and they ask me one question ‘Mr. Moore how you stay out of jail all those years?’ I got one answer. I learned a magic secret.”
The activist said, “The magic secret is I stopped doing wrong. It work like magic.”
This magic is what Moore hopes takes over the city in 2021 because he said he’s tired of comforting mothers who are burying their child.
“I’m tired of sending up balloons for death,” he said. “And I don’t mean that in a harsh way. But we have to start celebrating life more than death.”
Moore is ready for the violence to end.
“Black, White, Chinese, Mexican, let’s come together for one cause: stop the killing,” Moore said. “Can’t we come together on one subject?”
FOX13 reached out to Shelby County DA Amy Weirich for a statement and she said:
“There’s no easy explanation for the large numbers of homicides this year, but it starts with too many guns in the wrong hands. If you own a gun, don’t leave it in your car where it can be stolen, and don’t leave it where children will have access to it in your home. Certainly, gangs and drugs are behind many homicides, but keeping guns out of the wrong hands can have a significant positive impact on community safety.”