EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. – The family of 14-year-old Jaylon McKenzie rallied in East St. Louis Monday to call for justice for Jaylon on the two-year anniversary of his shooting death.
“We want to see someone held accountable,” said Sukeena Gunner, Jaylon’s mother.
Charges previously filed against two suspects came to light Monday. That news came just three days after reports another suspect was charged.
Jaylen Staten, Larrion Shelby, and Maurice Dickerson have been charged in connection with McKenzie’s death. They face a variety of weapons charges.
“Although they’ve been charged, we need a conviction,” said Gunner.
She adds that no one has been charged with a more serious offense, such as murder. Gunner is hopeful more witnesses will come forward to help investigators.
“If you know something, do the right thing and say something,” Gunner said.
She said if the shooter is not behind bars, “They’ll strike again.”
Gunner hopes to end what’s become known as a don’t snitch mentality.
“I don’t want anyone else to have to endure the pain, the suffering, the dark nights, all of the things that parents, grieving mothers, grieving families have to endure when someone senselessly takes their child’s life,” she said. “I don’t want that to happen to anybody else.”
Family supporters, including Shawndell Williams, hope Gunner will find justice.
“Looking at her and seeing just how she’s pushing forward and still continuing to fight for justice for her son is phenomenal,” Williams said.
She and Gunner have formed a friendship over the pain they share. Williams’ son, Sean Williams, was murdered last year.
McKenzie’s family said their loved one was bound for success. He was even featured in “Sports Illustrated” as one of six future superstars in the country.
“Everybody knows him as an excellent football player, but he was an excellent young man,” said McKenzie’s great-uncle Stephon Jenkins. “He was humble.”
McKenzie’s spirit lives on through a foundation his mother founded after his death. Gunner started the foundation because she knows her son would have given back to the community if he had gone on to play professional football.