SACRAMENTO – Youth activists and community leaders have been working around the clock after a rash of shootings took place last weekend, including one that claimed the life of a 9-year-old girl in Del Paso Heights and another that resulted in the death of a 17-year-old Sacramento Charter High School student.
Members from Always Knocking Inc., Brother 2 Brother, Advance Peace, Building Healthy Communities, Voice of the Youth, Mutual Assistance Network, Community Mothers 95838 and a whole host of grassroots organizations are doing their best to provide healing for the city and county of Sacramento.
“We can’t be enemies to each other no more. Too many lives are being taken. It’s time to let it go,” said Greg King of Always Knocking Inc., as he cried out to the perpetrators with guns. “This team, in two and a half days, has logged in 36 hours straight, providing service to the community and I’m proud of all of them. We may be separated by name, different neighborhoods, but regardless of where violence happens … it affects us all.”
Within a burst of a few hours, gun violence covered the Sacramento region. Most notably, the shooting death of Makaylah Brent, 9 years of age, who died in Del Paso Heights’ Mama Marks Park. A woman and Makaylah’s 7-year-old cousin were also injured in the shooting.
The Sacramento Police Department said that officers were notified of an adult male who had self-transported himself to a local hospital after being injured in this shooting. The male is listed in stable condition.
Debbie Cummings of Community Mothers of 95838 said she has been comforting and assisting the little girl’s family. Ms. Cummings said organizers of the Black Child Legacy Campaign stepped up the plate immediately during a time of tragedy.
“I didn’t have to make one phone call because (BCLC) was already handling it,” Ms. Cummings said. “And for Makaylah’s family, they want you to know that we not only had this loss of Makaylah, but we’ve also lost a lot of young lives in our community and the 916 area. The family wants it to stop. We have a cause here and we need to stop gun violence.”
Far east of the Mama Marks Park shooting, Jaylen Betschart, 17, was shot and killed on Jackson road. The Sacramento Charter High School student was found after his car crashed into a pole. Officers on the scene, who tried saving his life, discovered that he was shot at least once.
Two more shootings took place, one in the Arden Arcade area and another in North Sacramento near the 3400 block of Mabel Street. A gunman shot shoppers at Afgan market, injuring three people. The shooter turned the gun on himself, which killed him.
A woman and two men were injured in the shooting on Mabel Street. In the early morning hours of Oct. 6, another 17-year-old male was shot but police said he is expected to survive. Within three days five people were killed and 14 people were hit by gunfire.
Mervin Brookins, a Del Paso Heights resident and co-founder of Brother 2 Brother, said the Makaylah Brent shooting was not “gang-related,” based on the “intelligence” he gathered. Brookins told The OBSERVER it was a “beef” between two individuals.
“As far as I know they haven’t arrested anyone but they probably know who the person is,” Brookins said. “There were witnesses that were willing to speak. So, I think it’s just a matter of time before they catch up with the shooter.”
Unfortunately, Brookins, as well as King, has seen these types of gun violence take place time after time. Along with the people they work with to try to lead young people away from criminal activities, it appears to be innocent people that get caught in the crosshairs.
“I know Makaylah’s family well. It’s tragic. It’s heartbreaking,” Brookins said. “Any time a kid gets killed it’s going to turn into heart pains. This is no different. Just a beautiful little girl.”
Tanya Bean-Garrett and her husband Herman Garret from Oak Park knows what it’s like to lose someone to gun violence. They spoke at a vigil held in Cesar Chavez Park to offer their support to the victims’ families.
Their son, Deston “Nutter” Garrett, a Sacramento High football player, was fatally shot by his friend in June 2016 over a disagreement about a YouTube video he posted.
“This is what we do. We give back,” Herman Garrett said. “We’ve been going through this for a long time. It’s a long journey and I hate to see families go through this.”
King said the scenario works both ways for the victim and the violators. He offered shooters help, too.
“We not only have the services for those who survive and go through it,” King said. “To the shooters…we also have services for you, too. We know you’re going through too.”
By Antonio R. Harvey | OBSERVER Staff Writer