CLEVELAND — There has been a surge in gun violence across the area this year, but what happens after the crime tape comes down and the funeral is over? Many victims of these shootings leave behind an agony felt most strongly by grieving mothers.
News 5 talked to two of those mothers who have an important message.
The King brothers
In the early morning hours of July 30, Janet Foster’s life changed forever.
“I woke up and I heard gunshots and I was like 'Oh my God, that’s close!'” Foster said. “I saw a body in my neighbor’s driveway, and I literally started screaming.”
Foster ran outside her home. What she saw is every mother’s nightmare.
The body in her neighbor’s driveway was her youngest son, 22-year-old Delvont’e King.
Moments later she was hit with another agonizing realization.
“My other son was on the ground. In between the car and sidewalk, so he’s laying on the street,” Foster said.
It was her second-youngest son, 26-year-old Domenique King. The two brothers had been shot in front of their mother’s home.
“I ran over to Delvont’e and telling him to hold on and I ran over to Domenique so I’m in between trying to see who to help. It was like making a choice to save this one, or to save that one. And I’m back and forth. Just back and forth,” Foster said.
In the end neither Foster nor doctors were able to save the two brothers. The end result—a double funeral.
“I just wanted to die,” Foster said.
It’s been almost two years since Michelle Bell lost her son, 33-year-old Andre Brown. Still, she hates the sounds of sirens.
“I probably heard the siren to get him and I didn’t know it was him,” Bell said.
Brown and his best friend, were in a vehicle in Cleveland's Collinwood neighborhood in February 2019 when both were gunned down. Brown died the next day. He had been shot in the head.
Both of these mothers say their sons’ homicides remain unsolved and both women are now left to cope with insurmountable grief.
“Sometimes I don’t get out of the bed. I stay in bed for three or four days straight,” Foster said.
She’s been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression.
The haunting flashbacks keep her up at night.
“Every time I drive home from work, I look at Stevenson [Road]. I can’t drive on Stevenson,” Bell said.
Bell was forced to retire early from her long-time management position with the Internal Revenue Service.
However, she turned her pain into purpose, creating a non-profit to help families and mothers touched by gun violence. It’s called M-PAC Cleveland, and it focuses on prayer as a means to cope.
These mothers have been driven to spare others from the grief they feel. To anyone thinking about picking up a gun, Foster says, “Get rid of them—don’t have to have guns to solve issues. If you're angry with somebody, just distance yourself for a while.”
They also have a message to mothers whose children could be the next shooter.
“You have to tell them why not to do it and explain to them and show them. And be the model. Helping them understand, someone loves you,” Bell said.
Because once those bullets are fired—no one wins.
“You don’t want to bury a child, but you would like to say goodbye,” Bell said.
The support group Moms Demand Action said Black people are 13 times more likely than white people to die from gun violence.
Black children and teens are five times more likely to die from a gun homicide.
Here’s a list of Cleveland area support groups for mothers and others who have been impacted by gun violence:
M-PAC Cleveland: Click here.
Moms Demand Action: Click here.
Cleveland Peacemakers Alliance: Click here.
Front Line Service: Click here.
Cornerstone of Hope: Click here.
Hospice of the Western Reserve- Grief and Loss Support Services: Click here.
Cuyahoga County Witness/Victim Service Center: Click here.