The 15-month-old child, Carmelo Duncan, became one of the youngest victims of shootings in the United States, and a symbol of the pervasive helplessness of growing gun violence, after he was hit by several bullets while in the child seat of his father’s car.
On December 2, Carmelo was with his elder brother, 8, in the car their father was driving in southeast Washington, when unknown assailants shot it and fled in a stolen SUV.
The little boy died in hospital, while his father and brother emerged unharmed from the incident, which the police say are ignorant of their motives.
Carmelo became the 187th victim of the shooting murders that took place this year in Washington, and reached a record level not seen in the American capital in 15 years.
Several US cities have recorded “record levels of violence” that have intensified on youth, according to a report by the Every Town for Gun Safety organization.
Corona and the killings
The increase in violence is attributed to the protests in the country following the killing of several African Americans by the police, on the one hand, and to the Corona Covid-19 epidemic, which plunged the country into an economic crisis, causing the closure of schools and the suspension of social programs for youth on the other hand, and the organization considered in its report that ” Violence with weapons filled the void left by the lack of support resources. “
Firearms have claimed the lives of more than 18,500 people this year in the United States, without counting the suicides, among them more than 1,300 minors, according to the Gun Violence Archive, 284 of them are under the age of 11.
A report published by Agence France-Presse covers a number of examples of young children being killed by stray bullets, among them 11-year-old Devin McNeill, who was wounded on July 4 by a stray bullet fired by young adults to celebrate the National Day.
John Ayala tells the boy’s grandfather that these young men “were shooting for entertainment,” indicating that one of them had just got out of prison, taking advantage of the measures taken to curb the spread of the new Corona virus in prisons.
Ayala has been a well-known face among blacks in Washington since 1989, and he founded a local group called the “Guardian Angels,” whose members are distinguished by their red hats aimed at combating violence and foolishness on the subway.
Impotence and condemnation
“I have been traveling the world for years … to prevent such tragedies from occurring. What I regret most when seeing a child killed in this way is that we know he will not be the last,” tells the 51-year-old grandfather, reflecting a general feeling of helplessness.
On July 4, at least 4 children under the age of eight were killed by stray bullets in Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco and St. Louis, Missouri.
John Ayala denounces the “culture” of silence prevalent among African Americans who are most affected by these acts of violence, stressing “the need to change mentalities. Reporting a crime that occurred in your community … does not mean slander.”
The Daven soccer team coach Kevin McGill denounces the gangs that do not hesitate to settle scores in the neighborhood of children, saying that “such incidents are not rare in our region.”
For his part, Maurice Borden, an employee at a public school in the city, seeks to raise awareness, and he had participated in the founding of the “Endeavors Suns” association, which organizes campaigns to donate food and clothing and aspires to organize a monthly demonstration against the spread of weapons.