ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — President Joe Biden’s announcement Thursday on tackling gun violence comes as St. Petersburg deals with mounting crimes involving guns. Two mothers have been shot and killed in the city in just the past two weeks.
The family of one of the victims, K’Mia Simmons, is now begging for change and hoping a national push will put an end to the gun violence on our streets.
Despite police arresting the man who they believe shot and killed 21-year-old Simmons while she was riding in the passenger seat of a car and holding her daughter in her arms, her family says there will always be a hole in their hearts.
“He’s locked up but it don’t bring my sister back,” LaShawn Laster said through tears.
Detectives arrested 20-year-old Tyron Jackasal and said Jackasal’s target was the driver of the vehicle, Parise Lovett Jr. who is the father of Simmon’s youngest daughter. The shooting seemed to stem from a dispute over a stolen $30,000 gold necklace, according to detectives.
Since January, 13 people have been killed in homicides in St. Petersburg. That compares to 15 in all of 2020.
“There’s a gun violence issue everywhere. That needs to be addressed and handled, there’s too many senseless and useless killings,” Laster elaborated.
Simmons family is now making an urgent plea to the community to stop the violence. “It’s time to put down your weapons, come together as one as a whole let’s unify, let’s build and not destroy,” K’Mia’s mother Linda Simmons said with compassion.
President Biden called gun violence a nationwide epidemic Thursday. In addition to several changes, Biden said he will be dedicating 5 billion dollars in funding to community violence intervention programs.
It came as a relief for Council Member Deborah Figgs-Sanders, who heads up an Enough is Enough campaign in St. Pete aimed at stopping gun violence.
“Now to have national attention to this and a national focus on something we have been fighting for so long, it means so much to everyone,” she said.
Just 5 days after Simmon’s death, on Easter night, detectives say another mother of two was shot and killed. Emily Grot was killed at 13th Avenue South and 26th Street South near Wildwood Park, less than a mile from where Simmons was shot. Grot’s homicide is still unsolved. Police are hoping tips will help connect them to a suspect.
Simmons family tearfully shared photos of K’Mia with her daughters in an effort to highlight what one trigger pull stole from their family. “People need to think about that before you pick up a gun and just recklessly roam the streets looking to take the most precious thing God gives us and that’s our life,” Laster added with emotion.