Mother: Change is needed so more kids aren’t killed

A memorial dedicated to Dequarius Dede Love (Aug. 22, 2014)

MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. (WOOD) — The mother of a 17-year-old gunned down two blocks from the police department told 24 Hour News 8 something needs to change so more kids aren’t murdered like her son.

Katrina Love-McKinley drove by a memorial dedicated to her son, Dequarius Dede Love, on a Friday afternoon.  She said that his senseless murder still doesn’t feel real — rather it’s a nightmare she hopes to wake up from.

“We need closure. We need answers. What happened to our kids — all you’re getting is a call [from the police] that your kid Is dead and that’s the end of it,” said Love-McKinley.  “It just hurt me so bad as my first born I don’t know what to say what to do how to cope with that I have to tell five kids about their brother being gone.”

Love was walking to a party when he was shot, his mom told 24 Hour News 8 that the young man was shot in the back of the head.

“What give y’all the right to take my son from me like that, that’s my baby,” said McKinley. “My son supposed to be burying me. I’m not supposed to be burying my baby right now.”

She described a need for activities for kids in Muskegon Heights, and said she thinks the school going year-round is a good start.

“A lot of times there’s not really options for our students, there’s not really stuff for them to do, so they find things to do that aren’t necessarily beneficial to them,” said Superintendent Alena Zachery Ross.  “So, by us being open, having shorter breaks, they are in an engaged environment, in a structured environment all year long.”

Zachery Ross said the string of student homicides has made her staff realize something.

“What it’s done is make us understand at our jobs it’s really life or death,” said Zachery-Ross.

Year round school starts in the Heights on Monday, Aug. 25.  Zachery-Ross emphasized a push on after school programming as well.

“We understand that parents have to work. We understand that we are that safe haven for the kids. So just being here giving the kids something to do, giving the kids – enhancing their minds, enhancing their talents, just their overall their spirits,” said high school teacher Fatima McKinney.

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