WACO, Texas — Gun violence has been on the rise across Central Texas. The city of Waco saw 12 gun-related homicides in 2021 and there's already been six so far in 2022.
"Behind every statistic is a person with a family," McLennan County Commissioner Pat Miller said. "A family who will mourn them for years to come, left behind to piece together an understanding of why the person is no longer with them."
On Friday, nine Central Texas families brought together by the shared trauma of losing a loved one to gun violence held a press conference to call for peace. They hoped by telling their stories, they can help prevent more people from having the same experience.
Paula Peoples Crain is still waiting for justice for her son Marlon, who was killed 22 years ago.
"Marlon was the love of my life. He was my only son," she said. "I miss him dearly. Losing a child is one of the most unimaginable and painful feeling a mother can experience."
Paula read a letter she wrote to his killer during the conference.
"I want to encourage you to come forward in order to bring peace to yourself and my family," she read. "Your friends and your family may tell you that you're free and to disregard me. I know you're not free in your mind and in your heart."
While many of these women were strangers before, they were brought together by a shared and preventable heartbreak.
"Each of us today are connected because a reaction to an action joined us to a club we had no desire to be in," Pamela Degrate, who lost her son Calveon Nichols, said.
All of the moms asked other parents to talk with their children about the dangers of gun violence.