LaVonda Evans spoke about the unspeakable at Cincinnati City Hall on Tuesday morning. Her only son, 16-year-old Ladarius Evans, was shot and killed during a quadruple shooting in Walnut Hills in June.
"Words can't even explain,” Evans said. “It was a moment of disbelief, hurt, pain, confused. I was hoping it was a bad dream."
Evans is now asking city leaders for change. In front of city council’s Law and Public Safety committee she pleaded for a solution to gun violence for her son's sake.
"This was a loss that I had to take,” she said. “Half of my heart is gone. And this is what he'd want me to do."
Community anti-violence advocate pastor Ennis Tait is also looking for solutions to the city’s string of summer shootings, many of which have injured or killed young teenagers.
"We have to look at it in the way we describe it as public health crisis, just as we did with COVID," Tait said. “All the teams came together."
Tait is asking the city to take an “all-in” approach to gun violence.
"Where everyone in their respective roles were at the table bringing their resources and their wisdom and their knowledge,” he said.
Tait is putting that idea into practice at the Business Center in Avondale on Reading Road that houses his ministries offices. There the Positive Force Collaborative is expanding and establishing a dedicated center. The program will address issues like violence, poverty and trauma among other issues.
"We were using other spaces, but now we have where they're going to be trained and be developed,” Tait said. “But, they'll also receive mentoring."
Tait also said he hopes the expansion can lead to more resources for people.
"In Cincinnati we have a commitment to doing research, we invest a lot in research, we invest in a lot of opinions,” he said. “We don't do a whole lot in people."
Tait hopes the space will be ready to go in three months, and the sooner the better to start changing lives before it’s too late, as it was for Ladarius Evans’ mother.
"This is a lifelong loss for me,” said Evans. “I have to deal with this everyday. Every movement. He's supposed to graduate next year, go to prom. I will never get to experience that, never with him."
If you know anything about the shooting June 17 in Walnut Hills, please call Crime Stoppers at 513-352-3040.