Mothers and gun violence: Their stories, the pain and sisterhood

Throughout the month of May, mothers are celebrated -- especially on Mother’s Day. Love is shared, gifts are exchanged and children bond with their parents.
Published: May. 22, 2023 at 7:11 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Throughout the month of May, mothers are celebrated -- especially on Mother’s Day. Love is shared, gifts are exchanged and children bond with their parents.

But for some mothers, the month is a reminder of what’s missing in their hearts.

Children they’ve lost to gun violence.

For moms who have lost children to gun violence, Mother's Day can be a painful reminder of what they've lost.

Travis Davis

For Gwen Davis, she’s felt that pain since her 18-year-old son, Travis, was shot and killed in October 2006.

“On Sundays, he always went to his girlfriend’s house to his hair done. I didn’t know anything about hair. So he had a curfew. This particular Sunday night, he wasn’t home at curfew. So I got a lot of bad feeling,” Davis said.

Davis called Travis’ girlfriend.

He wasn’t with her.

This month, Davis returned to the location on Parkway Avenue and Tuckaseegee Road for the first time.

“This is my first coming here since my son has been dead,” she said in tears. “This is where it all happened, where his life ended right here. This woman called me from his phone saying she found it at the bus stop. So I’m thinking he lost, dropped the phone. Didn’t know my son was laying in the woods dead, shot three times,” she said.

Police believe Travis was killed in what may have been a robbery attempt.

“My heart aches every day. I miss my Travis so much. But I got 18 wonderful years of him, nobody can take that away. He has a daughter, she’s 16, he never got to see,” Davis said. “She looks just like him, just like him. That keeps me going. I got to be there for her.”

Jaquan Krider

Being strong is something mom, K’shawn Simon can attest to. Her pain is along Brookshire Boulevard.

“He always called me “Dukes,” don’t call me mom. So, it’s gonna be like, ‘Happy Mother’s Dukes or Merry Christmas Dukes.’ It’s real heartbreaking,” she said.

It’s also her first returning to Brookshire Boulevard, the location her 20-year-old son, Jaquan Krider, was killed.

He died on June 4, 2022.

“He was with a few of his friends when the car was shot up and my son was killed here on Brookshire,” Simon said. “These mothers are really hurting. This is a pain that runs very deep.”

Davyon Farrer

Pain is also something Chandra Farrer knows all too well.

Her 21-year-old son, Davyon, was murdered on March 24, 2021, near a gas station on Beatties Ford Road.

“It was here. So, he was shot. He was shot at the store. He ran across the street; he fell in the street and was shot again. He got up, landed there. Shot again,” said Chandra Farrer, describing how her son was killed.

As she learns to cope with her son being gone, each day is a new lesson. As a mom, she stays strong.

“The person who my son was killed by was somebody I grew up with. So it’s hard to...I don’t even like my kids going out the door and it’s just hard because they’re 18 and 20. Who am I to tell you...I can’t tell you not to go anywhere because you’re grown now,” she said. “All I can do is tell them to be safe and always tell your kids you love them because you never know if it’s your last time.”

Getting through Mother’s Day

As moms are celebrated in May, these three mothers are missing a big piece of their hearts.

But they know they’re not alone.

“It’s painful. I have two other sons. They do try to make me feel better. But it’s painful because Davyon was the child that would wake me up on Mother’s Day,” Chandra Farrer said.

Simon also shared a story of her son on Mother’s Day.

“My kids would always line up secretly without telling me that they’re about to come in and they’ll have me sit down on a couch and they’ll line up with different gifts,” she said. “And He (Jaquan) will demand to be the first one to come in. He’s going to demand to come in with those and it’s always roses.”

For Davis, she’s always remembering her son.

“It is rough, start out rough but my day ends up good because I know my mom and Travis are looking down on me,” she said.

Sisterhood: Mothers leaning on each other

Jackie Lewis, her daughter Chandra Farrer, and Gwen Davis -- three mothers who’ve lost a son to gun violence.

“Let me ask you, for people watching this, how would describe that pain?” WBTV asked them.

”Numb...unforgivable.” Chandra Farrer responded.

So what can be done to make children understand that the pain that these mothers experience will never end.

“If you could put the person who killed my son or my grandson in the same room with me...moments after they had killed my child or days after they had killed my child, my child, my grandchild, they will see what kind of pain I had,” Lewis said. “Because see those first few hours and those days, I didn’t know if I was coming or going. I didn’t know if I was gonna make it. I didn’t know what to do. All I knew is that my child was gone. And I couldn’t think past it. I couldn’t even plan the funeral, my daughter had planned it because I couldn’t even plan the funeral.”

These women say having each other is how they’ve made it.

They’re part of a sisterhood: Moms who’ve had gun violence shatter their families.

“How important is it to have another shoulder to lean on?” WBTV asked.

“It makes a big difference as to talking to somebody or trying to explain to somebody how you’re feeling about the loss of your child. And they really don’t understand me. I feel like they just don’t understand. And that’s why I need ladies like these in my life. I never wanted to be in a club for moms who lost their children, but I was forced to be. I love these ladies because they’re for me when I need them,” Lewis said.

“If you haven’t lost a child, you can’t say I know how you feel. That pain is different,” Davis said.

Besides the obvious ways, these mother’s lives are changed for ever.

”A big difference. My son got a daughter, he never could get to see. I have to be strong for her because he’s not here and I know she’s growing up without her father. But she knows all about her father. And this is the hurting feeling... to her. I have to be strong when I go around her because when I see her, I see him,” Davis said. “So, I hold tears back because I don’t want her to see me cry. Because my heart aches every day for my child...the pain I have will never go away. The pain that I have will never go away. It’s like somebody took a knife and stabbed me there and that wound has not healed. It has not healed. I hated the guy who took my child’s life but I had asked God to take the hate out of my heart toward him.”

“I have to be strong for my sons, I have two other sons. It’s difficult because I’m probably more paranoid,” Chandra Farrer said.

”Almost three years to find myself again. And I’m still finding myself and that’s why it’s important for me to have other women in my life. Because I know what I went through. I know how I was lost. Didn’t know if I was gonna go to the left or the right. I forgot how to pay my bills, I forgot how to grocery shop,” Lewis said.

Lewis has started the organization Angels of No Mercy to help grieving moms.

The message, she says, is parents talk to their kids about what’s going on in their lives.

“When you see the headline of another child getting killed?” WBTV asked.

“It hurts. I feel that pain all over again. It’s like it starts all over. And it goes to the, ‘I know what that mother got to deal with tonight,’” Lewis said.

These three moms have a message --- to hold on.

“It gets better, that hole never closes...but...take it one day at a time,” they said.

And for other mothers who might hear their stories, they have some advice for them as well.

“That is the message. Lean on each other and take it one day at a time. Ask God to give you that strength, he’ll give it to you.”