By Melissa Klaric
Herald Staff Writer
The grieving mother of a Sharon teenager begged a gathering Tuesday evening not to let her son’s death be in vain.
Donna Ford was among the speakers at “Solutions,” the gathering organized by Mayors Against Illegal Guns and held at Cedar Avenue Church of God in Sharon.
She talked of her son, Le’Angelo “Lee Lee” Crumby Ford, who was shot by his friend who was playing with a gun.
Lee Lee was killed Jan. 20, three months after his 17th birthday. Ford said she talked to her son about 20 minutes before he was shot. She believes the shooter did not mean to do it, “but you should never even have a gun,” Ford said.
“Parents need to wake up and be accountable for their kids,” Ford told the crowd of about 35. “Every day of my life I cannot hug my child or kiss my child because of a gun.”
Keeping children safe, holding people accountable for their actions, and pushing for changes in current gun laws were the common threads among the speakers who agreed with the Rev. Charles Johnson, pastor of the church, that “we must do something.”
Riley Smoot, chief of Southwest Mercer County Regional Police, said that the violence caused by guns affects everyone. He said it affects him as a father, and most police take the sadness home with them.
Although Smoot said he did not have all the answers, he is adamant that everyone needs to be vigilant in the safety of the community’s children.
“Preachers preach it, teachers teach it, police officers enforce it,” Smoot said.
Rev. Lora Adams King, superintendent of Farrell Area School District, added that “parents have to be parents.”
The regional director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Estina Baker, made the trip from Pittsburgh to tell the crowd why changing gun laws is a passion of hers.
“Things happen that bring it to a pinnacle,” Baker said. “Rosa Parks was not the first to sit on the bus.”
Baker added that she travels to all communities in Pennsylvania pushing for a change in gun laws, and will even speak if only one person is listening.
“If I keep giving you the heel of a loaf of bread, I’m going to keep on giving it to you because you didn’t ask me not to,” Baker said, explaining that she used the analogy to stress that people need to reach out to their legislators and tell them they want the laws changed.