WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — At least seven children have been shot within the first two weeks of 2023 in Washington, D.C.
Two teenagers, one 14 and one 17, were shot at the Congress Heights Metro Station on January 2. Martez Toney was killed in that shooting.
An 8-year-old boy was hit by a bullet in Brightwood on January 3.
13-year-old Karon Blake was shot and killed in Brookland on January 7.
And two children, ages six and nine, were shot getting of a Metro bus in Brightwood on Wednesday.
The rash of gun violence has communities outraged. And neighbors are calling on people to put the guns down.
“Put the guns down,” said Jawanna Hardy, with Guns Down Friday.
Hardy was one of a few dozen people who attended a peaceful protest on Friday night. The group called for transparency and accountability in the murder of Karon Blake, who was killed by a person who lives in Brookland. According to police, the man, who is a government employee, shot and killed Blake who he claimed was breaking into cars.
Police have not charged or named that man.
“We don’t understand how Karon’s name is released and his killer’s name is not released,” said Myisha Rwalings, Karon’s aunt. “It doesn’t make sense to anybody. We’ve never witnessed anything like this. I don’t know who this man is, whoever he is, is clearly somebody, but we just want to know, ‘why did you do this to Karon?’”
Blake’s murder, as well as the other shootings, have left residual trauma across the District.
“I just want to say, put the guns down. I lost a friend named Karon too. Guns are dangerous,” said a young boy who spoke at the peaceful protest.
“Everybody has some form of impact from just the shootings and the continuation of that gun violence. It’s important to just talk about it,” said Mariah Gray, with the TraRon Center.
Gray works as an art therapist at the center, which helps those affected by gun violence deal with their trauma through art. The TraRon Center, which was established in 2017, offers programing for both adults and children, including group counseling, therapeutic art, after school programs, summer camps and more.
“I think that the famous phrase is a picture speaks a thousand words,” said Gray. “You just don’t have to say anything, you don’t have to share with me entirely everything, however you can just pour yourself into this vessel of what you created.”
Gray said trauma can have rippling effect in person’s life.
“Stress, anxiety, depression. All of these things, that can literally be carried on in our bodies,” she explained.
And specifically for children, she said they might not have the tools to deal with it.
“They’re aware of what occurs and they don’t even know how to make sense of it,” she said.
Which is why the TraRon Center offers a safe space for kids and adults to process and heal from their trauma.
“Recognizing that this was impactful, let’s talk about it. And that’s primarily what I’ll be talking about with the older group with today, the shooting last Tuesday,” she said.
Back in Northeast Friday, a similar message of healing was expressed.
“Put the guns down, lift our kids up!” protestors chanted.
For more information on the TraRon Center, visit www.traroncenter.org