PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Family members of those killed by gun violence are speaking out about bringing it to an end, and they are taking that message to the streets.
A few dozen people met near the splash park on Elm Avenue in Portsmouth Friday at 6 p.m. Those gathered had different reasons for being there: some had lost a son or father recently, and others were just sick of the violence and want to see it end.
“I refuse to give up,” said Monica Atkins.
Atkins helped organize the “Stop the Violence” event and walk. She knows the feeling of loss all too well. Her son Antonio Atkins was shot and killed in Portsmouth December 5.
“Not seeing his beautiful smile,” Atkins said. “It’s the little things, that’s what I miss the most.”
Antonio, 25, his brother and girlfriend were going home from a club on the morning he was killed. Police said the victim was driving on Effingham Street.
“A car drove up on them and shot them six times,” Monica Atkins said.
Antonio died and his girlfriend was injured. Eight months later, police are still looking for leads. Until investigators figure out who killed her son, Atkins won’t stop talking about stopping violence and the need for the community to come together.
At Friday evening’s event, people held hands and stepped forward one-by-one to share about their loved ones lost too soon.
Guy Cuffee’s daughters were there. He was shot and killed in Virginia Beach this past Tuesday, August 11. Lera Jackson, Cuffee’s daughter, said she wishes someone had thought of the family before killing her father.
“Before you pull a trigger, before you commit any kind of act or crime, you need to put yourself in that person’s shoes,” Jackson said.
Jackson and her sisters had already planned on being at the event because they knew Antonio Atkins. Their father’s death gave them another reason to participate in “Stop the Violence” events.
“You know you’re going to have to bury your parent one day,” Jackson said. “But you just don’t think that somebody would just come and take his life over nothing.”
Atkins said she has already held “Stop the Violence” bowling nights and dances. She is in the process of planning a cook-out for September.
Police continue to investigate Antonio Atkins’ death. If you know something about the shooting, call the Crime Line at 1-888-LOCK-U-UP℠.