COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Moneaca Collins found out through a cell phone ping one Monday evening that her son was hospitalized at Grant Medical Center. Frantic, Collins rushed to the emergency room to try to find him. Finally, two police officers took her aside.
“That is when I was told that I need to go identify a child that was in the surgery, ICU surgery,” Collins recalled. “He was shot three times.”
Collins’ son, who didn’t want to be named in this article, rented a scooter at about 9 p.m. May 2 and was riding away. Then someone opened fire. Over a month later, Collins’ son is still in the hospital.
“His femur is fractured,” Collins said. “He’s got a feeding tube, he’s got some tubes, and he still has a bullet lodged in his liver. And they took his gall bladder.”
The police report showed that officers heard 10 to 15 gunshots and went to West Rich Street and Civic Center Drive. One victim in the shooting was 18. Collin’s son, 17, was a second victim. Several cars were shot, too.
“I went down there after the incident on a pretty day and saw the area,” Collins said. “There wasn’t anything that he could have been doing except for riding a scooter and enjoying the scenery. He was riding scooters with his friends. That’s all.”
According to data from the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 47 people under the age of 20 in Columbus injured by gunfire as of Tuesday. Another 22 have died.
“He doesn’t talk about it,” Collins said about that night. “The only thing on his mind is what he had planned for his next milestone before this incident happened. He was just getting ready to turn 18. He had plans. He had dreams. He had things that he wanted to do.
“The only thing he’s talking about now is getting back on his feet. He wants to get a car.”
Gun violence has affected Collins’ family over the years. Her aunt was wounded by a bullet, and her brother died when he was shot in 2010 in Cincinnati.
“A young man here that I met, that was friends with my son,” Collins said, fighting back tears, “that has passed on [due to] gun violence. I’ve seen just too much.”
Making a difference
As a mother, Collins wants to step up and help prevent gun violence. She’d like to see a program to buy back guns from teens, even those that are in their possession illegally.
“Why do they feel that they have to carry guns?” Collins asked. “It shouldn’t be that way.”
She’d also like to get teens mowing lawns and raking leaves so they can have pocket money and would be willing to start a service to do that.
“I’ll lead, I’ll guide, I’ll train, I’ll volunteer my time — if it’s going to keep them out of the ground and out of the jail cell,” Collins said.
If you’d like to get in touch with Collins on teen initiatives to prevent gun violence, specifically on lawncare initiatives, send your contact details to firstname.lastname@example.org.