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‘Stop the Violence’

Families of murder victims recount anguishing stories

041721...R VIO RALLY 1...Youngstown...04-17-21...As Manuel Vazquez, from the Vazquez Family Ministry of Youngstown, left, sings Jay Skinner of Youngstown, back to camera, tries to get the message across to end the violence in Youngstown...by R. Michael Semple

YOUNGSTOWN — “I was 14 years old when my stepfather shot and killed my mother, and I held her hand while she died,” Mamie Rudoloph told about 100 people inside the Boys and Girls Club on Oakhill Avenue on Saturday afternooon.

She was one of four family members of homicide victims who spoke during the “Stop the Violence” rally sponsored by the group Youngstown United As One.

“I was in the ninth grade at Wilson” High School, she said of that day in 1988 on Verona Avenue on the East Side. “They argued all day, and then they got into an argument later on at night,” she continued. Mamie and her brother were playing Nintendo in another room.

“Then my mother said, ‘Just let me sit down. I’ll be OK.'” Her stepfather went upstairs and got a gun.

“We heard a gunshot and I heard her whimper. And he came in and leaned up against the door jam and he said ‘Pretty lady, I’m sorry.'” Then he told her brother to call an ambulance.

“And I went in there, and I was holding my mother’s hand,” she said from a microphone. “I just felt like I was just sitting there watching my mother’s life roll away. And there was nothing I could do about it,” she said, tears streaming down her face.

Her uncle came into the side of the house as police were taking her stepfather, Floyd Pierce, out the front door. “He had the gun up like ‘Where he at? Where he at?’ And my cousin Keith grabbed him and said ‘No, man. Don’t do it. Don’t do it.'”

She had a message for everyone in the room.

“Domestic violence and gun violence is not glamorous at all. It’s painful,” she said. Her stepfather has since died.

“My uncle moved away to Columbus because he didn’t want to kill my stepfather,” she said. “I was 14 years old. I planned my mother’s funeral,” she said.

“Picking out caskets, picking out dresses. Are you serious? When we went to view my mother’s body, I tried to get in the casket with her.

“But all I can say is ‘Thank God’ because I could be a statistic. I could be on somebody’s corner. I could have somebody’s needle hanging out of my arm,” she said. “Thank God.” The room filled with applause.

Another speaker was Ron Shadd, president of the Youngstown City Schools Board of Education, whose father, Ron Shadd, was shot to death in 1986 when the younger Ron was 10. Shadd said he had never spoken publicly about it before.

“I had never even heard of someone being murdered before,” he said. “At 10 years old, I was the only child that I knew of in my school whose father not only was dead but was dead of gun violence.

“It was just traumatizing. I remember officer Rick Alli coming to my home for Crime Stoppers. I remember during that time watching TV after school and that video coming up and being constantly reminded that the individual or individuals who killed my father … we never got justice for that.”

As a child, he wondered, “Are they coming for me next? What did I do to cause this? Will I ever be safe? That trauma there, didn’t leave. It just goes with you throughout your whole walk.”

But children often don’t get the opportunity to talk about what they went through.

“Sometimes the adults in our life don’t have the resources or skills to understand that needs to happen,” he said.

One of his messages for the audience he said was, “If we have families that are facing these challenges, we have to reach out to them. We have to have those conversations with them. We have to give those children the opportunity to speak about that situation.”

“Even though I had a loving family around me, I never had that opportunity until now,” he said.

Shadd, who has a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree, said he wanted people to know that people who have experienced trauma can still succeed.

“People tell me, ‘Ron, you shouldn’t be in the situation you are in because you are from Youngstown. You were raised in poverty. Your father was murdered’ But the thing is we have to encourage our children to have … resilience,” he said.

Another speaker was Melody Hall, mother of Marlon Hall, who was 20 when he was shot to death Jan. 7, 1998, on Boston Avenue while sitting in his car.

“This is my son,” she said holding a box containing his ashes. “Tomorrow he would have been 43. Tomorrow is his birthday. In my heart, he is going to be 43.”

Hall said, “It’s been over 20 years, and you see I’m still crying,” she said. “Can’t nobody tell me how to grieve about my baby. That is the worst pain I ever experienced in my life.”

She said, “Hear me, please, let us get together and stop this foolishness. We have to.,” she said.

Nuby spoke earlier in the program about the new Respect basketball league that began earlier Saturday at the Youngstown YMCA.

Nuby said before young men 19 to 25 begin to play basketball, they get one hour of training in vocational skills and how to write a resume. There are 18 teams for 225 young men, he said. He suggested that anyone still interested in participating to email him at rosaleelandscaping@live.com.

Danetta Floyd of Youngstown, mother of Savon Young, spoke about her son having been shot to death April 9, 2019, at age 26 while driving to a friend’s house on the North Side and getting “caught in the crossfire.”

She said, “I have a life-sized poster (of my son) that I talk to every day, every night, even when I’m by myself. I just miss him.”

erunyan@vindy.com

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