COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The City of Columbus is continuing to look for answers to stop violence in the city.
On Sunday, Aniyah Ellie, 17, was shot and killed, the fourth Columbus teen to lose their life to gun violence in a seven-day span.
City leaders including Columbus City Councilmember Nick Bankston said the community needs to come together, championing an issue that is personal to him. Bankston is not only in a leadership position in Columbus, but he’s also a father who grew up in the city and a survivor of gun violence.
Two 17-year-olds, a 15-year-old, and a 13-year-old all lost their lives to gun violence in Columbus in a week’s time. Bankston said it’s heartbreaking when anyone loses their life to gun violence, especially when they are children.
“It’s a personal pain for me because although they’re not my kids, they’re all of our kids, and it’s a reflection of our community and the work we have to do,” he said.
Bankston knows the effects of gunshots all to well. In 2007, when he was 17-years-old, he was shot. He was at a party when someone who was angry about being kicked out came back and started firing.
“That’s not a badge of honor I wear,” Bankston said. “I was lucky and there’s so many folks that aren’t lucky. There are two folks, in particular, that night I was shot who weren’t lucky.”
He doesn’t want anyone else to go through what happened that night or what’s happened recently in the city, saying he’s like to see more mental health resources for children and for the community to come together again.
“That old adage, that it takes a village to raise a child, is so true, but our village is fractured right now,” Bankston said. “We don’t know our neighbors. We don’t come out on our porches. We don’t say, ‘Hi’ and what we have to do is we have to take back our streets, take back our children.”
When Bankston was in the marching band at East High School, a member of the band was shot and killed. Lovely Kendricks, who was killed at Franklin Park last week, was also a student at East. Bankston has a special message for young people or anyone affected by violence.
“What I can say to them is it’s OK to be in mourning right now,” he said. “It’s ok to have pain, but I also want them to know this is not normal. This does not have to be our norm and they do not deserve to go through that type of trauma.”
Police are still looking for people of interest in Ellie’s shooting and 18-year-old Roshawn Adkins Jr. is wanted in connection with Kendricks’ death. Suspects in the deaths of Griffin and Reed are in custody.