COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Lovely Kendricks, 15, was a 10th-grade cheerleader at East High School whose parents described her as a “ball of fun.”
Makhy Andrews, or “Booh Bah,” as his family called him, was a 15-year-old Westerville Central High School student who loved playing football and ping pong, his family wrote in his obituary. Andrews’ smile “lit up the room.”
Thirteen-year-old Sinzae Reed was a KIPP Columbus student and video game fanatic who loved hanging out with his friends and family.
All three of their lives, however, were cut short by gun violence.
“The only thing I have left of him are his ashes around my neck,” said Megan Reed, the mother of Sinzae Reed, who was fatally shot on Oct. 12 at the Wedgewood Village Apartments. “All I’m asking is justice for my baby. Why is that too much to give?”
Sixty-nine children were afflicted by a gunshot wound in Columbus prior to their 18th birthday in 2022. Of those kids, 10 did not survive, according to an NBC4 review of Columbus Division of Police reports.
Although youth firearm-related deaths dropped by 50% from 2021, Jene’ Patrick, community support volunteer lead with Mothers of Murdered Columbus Children, said one homicide is and will always be too many.
“To them, death is becoming a trend, a habit,” Patrick said. “These young men and these young women are going to funerals, and their whole conversation is them being next because, to them, it’s normal. Most of them don’t see themselves living past 20 or 21.”
Gunshot wound survivors ranged from a 1-year-old girl who was struck by a bullet that fired through her bedroom wall to an 11-year-old boy who was accidentally shot by a 13-year-old, according to Columbus police reports.
Mirroring national trends, Black boys accounted for the overwhelming majority of gunshot wound victims in 2022, NBC4’s review found, an indication for Patrick that Columbus’ Black community is grieving.
Black children are more likely to grow up with an incarcerated parent and live in a low-income household as opposed to their white peers, she said, increasing their propensity for becoming involved in crimes of violence — whether as the victim or perpetrator. “It’s a ripple effect,” she said.
“When you don’t see anything different, all you know is that environment,” Patrick said. “We have to change the mindset of our children and show them things outside of that environment to get them to even believe they can have things out of that environment.”
Though gun violence claimed the lives of 10 children in Columbus last year, Patrick said she’s hopeful that Mothers of Murdered Columbus Children and other violence prevention groups in the city prevented that number from growing.
Patrick said it’s time for more Columbus residents to get involved in the fight against gun violence; building community can prevent violence. The shortage of therapists — especially Black therapists, Patrick noted — must be addressed, and most importantly, community leaders, parents, and teachers need to meet kids where they’re at.
“We have to stop being scared of our children,” she said. “These are kids. If we don’t love on them and we don’t correct their actions, who will? And we’re seeing what’s happening if we don’t — we’re losing them.”
Here are the names of the children who died from bullet wounds in Columbus in 2022:
Yazmink Speer, 17, died on Jan. 27 after she was shot on the 4600 block of Refugee Road on the city’s Southeast Side.
Brylan Butcher, 14, died on March 5 in the Hilltop neighborhood. He was shot in an alleyway on the 300 block of South Terrace Avenue.
Makhy Andrews, 15, was shot and killed on June 3 while sitting inside a vehicle on the 5600 block of Caledonia Drive.
Devin Bannister, 15, was pronounced dead on July 18 after being dropped off at Riverside Methodist Hospital following a shooting. It’s unclear where he sustained the fatal gunshot.
Khaterra Griffin, 17, died on Sept. 25 after she was shot outside a nightclub on the 5500 block of East Livingston Avenue.
Lovely Kendricks, 15, was fatally shot on Oct. 10 after a fight broke out in Franklin Park on the city’s East Side.
Sinzae Reed, 13, died on Oct. 12 after being shot in the chest and hand at the Wedgewood Village Apartments.
Aniyah Elie, 17, died on Oct. 16 after checking herself into Nationwide Children’s Hospital. She was shot near the intersection of East 11th Avenue and North 4th Street after an altercation broke out in a nearby Kroger parking lot.
Deaire Craighead, 16, was shot multiple times on Christmas Day in the North Linden neighborhood. Within an hour of the 911 call, Craighead died at Riverside Methodist Hospital.
Unique Prater, 15, died on New Year’s Eve. Police found her body with a gunshot wound on the 1200 block of Atcheson Street.