A family is trying to turn tragedy into triumph.
Coretta Gatling lost her brother to gun violence in Hartford, and now she is pushing to honor him in a unique way.
“He always did whatever he could to put a smile on someone’s face,” Gatling said.
Her brother, James Headen Jr. died just feet from where a basketball tournament was going on, on Andover Street.
A fight between two other men led to the gunfire, and Headen was a bystander and was shot in the head and died.
“I’m still in denial. I know he’s not here. I know he’s not coming back,” Gatling said.
Three other people were shot, but survived. Several days later, police arrested 23-year-old Roosevelt Holmes.
Despite being the alleged trigger man, Gatling said she’s sympathetic to his family.
“I don’t know what the outcome of the case will be. But they’re going to lose a child as well,” Gatling said.
A few weeks ago, she decided to start an online petition to push to rename the basketball court in memory of her brother.
“We’re going to try to get as many as we can to let people understand that this was not just some ‘fly by Joe.’ This was somebody who cared about this community,” Gatling said.
So far the online petition has 254 supporters. Gatling said she has about another 30 paper petitions and is hoping to get at least 500 signatures altogether in hopes of showing her brother just how much he was truly loved.
“The pain is so deep. No medication can help so please stop the violence. It has to stop,” Gatling said.
Once she gets enough signatures, she said she wants to present them to the Hartford Board of Education and the mayor.
To sign the petition, click here.
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