Andon Oliver’s death is another reminder of the senselessness of gun violence — and the danger when firearms fall into the hands of teens.
Oliver, 17, died Jan. 3 from a gunshot wound to the chest at Anderson’s Fairview Park Apartments off Madison Avenue where he had gone to deal marijuana. DeTorio Fleming, 16, faces murder and robbery charges.
A 17-year-old dead; a 16-year-old charged with murder. Does it get any more tragic than that — one young life cut short and another potentially destined to spend decades behind bars?
Oliver’s grieving family held a vigil for him Saturday night despite the bitter cold. They lit candles and released balloons. They shared stories about Andon. But the acute pain of his untimely death won’t go away anytime soon. Deep down, it will always be there.
Family and friends acknowledged Saturday that Oliver was no goody-two-shoes. But, they said, he was trying to get his life going in the right direction.
Now, he’ll never reclaim another car from the scrap heap. He’ll never dribble a basketball. He’ll never pet another German shepherd. He’ll never again do any of the things he loved.
His shooting was beyond senseless. A life taken and another compromised over a little money and a little pot? It just doesn’t add up.
But when juveniles lay hands on a gun, they tend to make bad choices. Their senses of right and wrong, of proportional action, of self-restraint aren’t fully developed.
According to statistics for 2014-2018 from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, 7,878 children and teens are victims of gunfire annually in the United States. Nearly 1,600 die, half of them murdered.
Someday, maybe soon, the person who shot Oliver will regret it. But it’s already too late for him.
His death is senseless, but it doesn’t have to be meaningless.
“I just want to make sure it didn’t happen in vain,” Oliver’s mother, Laticia Willis, said. “I want this to be a movement. I would like gun safety to go in every school.”
And in every household, every church and every family — for the sake of every kid out there who could face Andon Oliver’s fate.