LANSING, Mich. — Two teens who attended Everett high school were shot and killed earlier this month.
Lansing School District officials say gun violence in the community is senseless and getting worse, which is why on Tuesday the district held a rally and open dialogue, hoping to find solutions to the problem.
“We just really want to start a conversation between the district, the city and the community about this gun violence epidemic that’s starting to emerge in the city,” said Gabrielle Lawrence, president of the Lansing School District Board. “We want to talk about how we can help our community and what resources our students and families need in order to prevent this from happening again.”
Lansing police say gun violence in the city is growing. Four teens have been shot and killed so far this year. Two of those, 16-year-old Marshawn Beard and 17-year-old Jamaris Leek, were students at Everett High School.
“It was just a huge tragedy for our Lansing School District community,” Lawrence said.
Marshawn and Jamaris were killed within 48 hours of each other. Their families are still dealing with grief they never imagined.
“He wasn’t what you would called a street kid,” said Miranda Westen, a close friend of Jamaris. “He was ambitious, he was book smart and just had a bright future."
"I’m still in disbelief, but I know God has a plan for him,” said Tanaysha Beard, Marshawn’s sister.
During Tuesday’s event both Marshawn’s and Jamaris’s families, along with others in the community, got to tell city officials what they think would help end gun violence in Lansing.
“We would start by putting in the work with some of these groups and young men,” Tanaysha Beard said. “We need to actually start taking the time to get to know them and see where their heads are at. We need to keep them involved in the community, but in the right way. “
Peter Spadafore, president of the Lansing City Council, said the city isn't "just looking at collaborating with law enforcement, but we’re looking to work with a lot of nonprofits and faith based organizations too. And our goal is to get in and see where gun violence is likely to occur and how to address it starting from the root.”