Walnut Hills murder victim's family calls for gun violence plan

Relatives of Christopher Williams speak out

CINCINNATI - Shequita Lail was devastated Friday when she learned that her nephew, Christopher Williams, had been murdered on Park Avenue in Walnut Hills.

Her emotions boiled over as she urged Cincinnati Police Chief James Craig to do more to solve the gun violence problem in the city.

"James Craig needs to fix this," she said. "This is not right."

Lail wrote a letter to Chief Craig, Mayor Mark Mallory, members of Cincinnati City Council and Ohio's U.S. senators demanding they craft a plan to solve the problem Sunday.

"We need to reject doubling down on guns and to work toward a moral solution," she wrote. "Loved ones and mothers and fathers need your help today to stop the epidemic of gun violence in Cincinnati, Ohio."

Lail is determined to make a change and vowed to never give up.

"My nephew will not die in vain; his name and his death will stand for something," she wrote. "This horrific event has placed a fire in me that will never die."

A man named Omar Jackson has been arrested in connection with Williams' murder and Lail said she will not rest until he and gun manufacturers take responsibility.

"We need to keep irresponsible gun makers and sellers from taking advantage of a federal law shielding them from lawsuits," the letter went on. "My and my Family would like to sue all parties."
 

Her nephew was not a gang-banger, but a man living a productive life who loved to help others even when he had nothing at times to give, Lail said.

"I will make sure that my nephew Christopher Williams case and story will send a powerful message to those bad apples in the gun industry who want to profit from the criminal gun trade and other activities thinking they are above the law and they will never have to pay the cost when innocent people are shot," she wrote.

Pastor Ennis Tait of Avondale's Church of the Living God called the letter "inspirational."

"She will probably fire up a base that has probably been waiting on this opportunity to speak out," Tait said. "Her passion is really reflected in this letter.  Her love for her nephew is reflected in this letter."

However, Pastor Tait said Lail didn't cast her net far enough in trying to empower the community.

"There should be churches and doctors and all types of stakeholders because this is a public health issue.  It's not a criminal issue," he said.

That is one of the reasons for Tuesday's gun buyback program at the President's Drive Church of God in North Fairmount. It runs from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Baltimore Avenue church.

"We're looking for people who would typically not see themselves as candidates for bring guns to say I need to bring my gun or I need to get this gun out of the house," Pastor Tait said. "We need girlfriends who are hiding guns for their boyfriends who may be in prison or maybe dealing a criminal activity on the streets. Bring those guns. Don't let your children be the victims of something that could have been prevented or avoided."

Shelia Davis, the Director for CIRV (Cincinnati Initiative to Reduce Violence) called the letter powerful.

CIRV works to deter criminals from continuing in that line of work, but Davis said more jobs and educational opportunities are needed to make that effort work.

"I think more programs for our teens," she said at the organization's Over-the-Rhine office. "We are losing young people in droves and trying to have programs to encourage them to put the guns down, but if I'm encouraging you to do something different, I have to give you something to make you want to do something different such as jobs."

Chief Craig hasn't responded to Lail's letter. However, at the crime scene on Friday, Lt. Kimberly Williams said the entire community has to become involved to solve the problem.

Cincinnati City Councilmember Cecil Thomas, a former police officer and chair of the Cincinnati Human Relations Commission, said he agreed.

"We want people to get totally angry to the point where they will begin to call when they know someone has a firearm, report that individual and find ways to get these guns off the streets," he said. "This has to be a total community effort and I mean from the local law enforcement, local government, all the way to the White House."
 

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