Mar 24, 2013

Thousands Of Gun Deaths Since Newtown

Thousands of gun deaths since Newtown

On the morning of his murder, Feb. 11, Devin Aryal, 9, dressed to the ticking of his race car clock. His collection of stuffed animals, won from those arcade claw games, stared back at him from their perch on his top bunk.

Devin felt he had outgrown the cutesy animal prints that had adorned the walls of his Oakdale, Minn., bedroom. He was in fourth grade now, after all. Without telling anyone, he had yanked the prints off his walls one by one. He had yet to decide how to fill up the blank spaces.
The night before, Devin had watched the Disney channel and played with his pirate gear and a couple of toy dinosaurs on his mother’s bed. He snuggled with her on the couch and watched more television. This had become their sleepy ritual. He’d explain the plot of the television show they were watching, or recount the highlights of his day -- a winning soccer goal, a new level beaten on one of his Nintendo DSi games.
"The morning was usual," recalled Melissa Aryal, Devin’s mother. "We got up and we got ready. I dropped him off at day care at 7:45."
On the seven-minute ride in their minivan, Aryal, 39, kept the radio off so she could talk with Devin. "He had so much to say," she recalled. Their morning conversation always ended the same.
"I love you,” Aryal told her son.
“I love you more," he replied.
“He would always win that game,” Aryal said. “It always gave me a good feeling.”

After a 34-year-old stranger with a 9 mm pistol and a backpack full of bullets shot Devin in the head for no apparent reason, Aryal only hears her son in her dreams. She is wrecked by the world she wakes up to, a world without Devin. He has become, for her, a composite of memories, conversation and images.
In the first week after the Newtown, Conn., massacre on Dec. 14, more than 100 people in the U.S. were killed by guns. In the first seven weeks, that number had risen to at least 1,285 gunshot killings and accidental deaths. A little more than three months after Newtown, there have been 2,243. The Huffington Post has recorded every gun-involved murder and accidental shooting death reported in U.S. news media since Newtown, revealing an epidemic that shows no signs of abating. The horrors cannot be contained behind yellow police tape or find resolution in a courtroom. For the victim's families, the grief deforms all it touches. There's the fear that the radio will play her favorite ballad. An airplane overhead, like the kind he flew, will strike panic. Home is not safe. One month, two months, two years, nine years since those fatal shots -- the grief never leaves.
Mere days into her own grieving, Aryal’s mind is dark, except for memories of her son and his last day. They were close as can be. But no matter how hard she tries, she can‘t remember what Devin wore that day or what Devin talked about that morning. “I hate to say this," she said. "Nothing stands out. How did I know this was going to be our last morning?”
Aryal rushed to her cashier job at a hardware store after she left Devin at the day care. She had to be there by 8. Her daughter, 19, slept through the morning and missed saying goodbye to Devin.
Devin greeted Pam Reilly, who runs the center in her toy-filled basement. Reilly's day care, across the street from Devin's elementary school, had been an early-morning fixture for dozens of kids for decades. It had been Devin’s second home for 5 1/2 years. Reilly was family.
That Sunday, the night before, had been Reilly’s birthday. Devin wanted to know if she had listened to the celebratory voicemail he and his mother had left for her. Then he wanted to talk to her about video games. “He had beaten this level on this game on my birthday,” Reilly recalled. “He thought that was pretty cool.” Aryal would later put that game in his coffin next to his body.
At about 8 a.m., Devin and the eight other children took seats at long black folding tables, surrounded by tall shelves stuffed with books and toys, and ate breakfast. Reilly served chocolate donuts, apple juice and Lucky Charms.
Devin had become the day care’s comforter-in-chief, an expert hand-holder and sharer. When a girl with cerebral palsy had trouble playing tag, he’d run a little slower so she could tag him. When his best friend Aaron got sad about his parents' divorce, Devin was there to counsel him about the extra presents he would soon get on Christmas. He assured Aaron he’d be okay. Devin had gone through it too.
“Devin was extremely anti-bullying,” said Amy Berger, 38, whose son was close to Devin at the day care. “If he saw anyone being bullied, he would be their friend instantly -- in school, day care, it didn’t matter. No one can pick on anyone. He wouldn’t allow it.” In a card left at the church, a classmate wrote of Devin: “He played with me when I was lonely.”
Just before 8:30 a.m., Devin walked across to Oakdale Elementary with Aaron and Aaron’s little sister Emily. Emily had difficulty walking. Devin held her hand.
At an extra gym period, Devin practiced jumping rope for a heart association fundraiser. He returned to Reilly’s basement at about 3:20 p.m., where he stayed until his mother would pick him up after her work. He quietly completed his homework. Forty minutes later, Reilly passed out Rice Krispies bars.
SpongeBob came on the day care television at 4:30 on channel 54. Devin had a choice between a black futon couch and an older brown couch. He played his DSi game system with Aaron. When Aaron left, Devin played with Berger’s son, Nathan.
By 5:30, most kids had left.
Upstairs, Reilly brewed a pot of Folgers regular. She had formed a little coffee club with a few of the mothers, mostly single parents. Camaraderie came easy. As the years went on, Reilly become something of an activity organizer for the grownups, arranging outings to a casino just south of Hastings, games of Yahtzee in her kitchen, horror movie nights in front of the TV in the living room. On nights when "The Bachelor" aired, she'd order pizza and the other mothers would come over and watch.
That night was “Bachelor” night.
Aryal wasn’t sure she could make it. She talked about maybe dropping Devin at her parents’ house. She wasn’t sure.
Devin knew what he wanted. He had decided that his hair was too long and told his mother he wanted a haircut. He could twirl his cowlick. That meant it was time for a trim.
Aryal thought the haircut could wait. It was their last squabble. Devin still wanted to go to the barbershop, Reilly remembered.
“Yes we are!” Devin said.
“I don’t think so,” Aryal said.
“Yes we are!” Devin said.
“I think we’re gonna wait,” Aryal said. “We’ll talk about it in the car.”
Devin put his hood up, grabbed his dark green backpack, and said his goodbyes. As he walked out, Reilly and a day care worker yelled after him: “Zip up your coat! It’s cold out!” Their last words.
He got into the back seat of their forest green 2004 Nissan Quest minivan. Aryal pulled onto 7th Street and began the same drive she had taken for 5 1/2 years. She was thinking it was too cold to go back to Reilly’s house for “The Bachelor.” She just wanted to go home and snuggle with Devin in front of the TV.
Devin talked about the double-digit multiplication homework that he had finished. He kept on about the haircut. His mom assured him she’d take him soon.
Aryal thought she heard a noise coming from under the minivan’s hood. She did not see the man in the green jacket and black jeans firing round after round into the street with a 9 mm handgun.
As Aryal turned left onto Hadley Avenue, her right arm suddenly went numb. Blood spurted.
She pulled into the Rainbow Foods parking lot, jumped from the minivan and dialed 911 on her cellphone. As she was calling, she turned and looked back. The minivan back window was shattered. The emergency dispatch operator came on the phone. Aryal's eyes found Devin in the back seat. “I just dropped the phone and I ran to him screaming,” she said.
She found her son slumped over in his seat, unconscious. He was making long, deep breathing sounds, and was bleeding from his head. “I’d seen the exit wound on the top of his head when I was holding him,” Aryal remembered.
She held her son’s head in her arms. “I love you. Just hold on. I love you. Just hold on. Mommy’s here.”
Aryal held on to her son until the ambulance took him to the hospital. He died within the hour. She learned the news while she was being treated for her bullet wound.
Two days after the funeral, she said she couldn't think. "I'm numb and just full of grief," she said. "I loved being a mom."
Fifteen days after Devin's death, she obsessed about her son’s last moments. She stays up every night unable to sleep until five or six in the morning. Her brain can’t stop flipping back to that night. “Seeing how bloody he was,” she explained. “It’s a gunshot.”
The immediate aftermath of violent death is red tape. Vast bureaucracies must be notified. Forms need filling out. Insurance must be contacted. The school must be told. The police must ask questions.
The police came to the house and handed over what was left inside the minivan: Devin's backpack, a laptop, papers, Devin’s rainbow-colored mittens and scarf, a case of pop, folding chairs they carried to his soccer games, and HappyMeal toys -- so much of it now freckled with blood. That same day in February, an official from the school district dropped off Devin’s belongings from his desk: a reading folder, a math folder, a box of Valentine’s Day cards the kids had sent to Devin. Aryal rooted through his backpack and found his completed math homework and handed it over to the school official, not wanting to rob Devin of his final achievement.
Nhan Lap Tran was arrested near the crime scene and charged with murder. Aryal tried not to read the newspaper stories. But she couldn't help herself. It didn't matter that she'd end up in tears. She needed to know why. According to the criminal complaint filed in Washington County District Court, police found Tran with a loaded 9 mm handgun about seven feet from where he had been standing. A round was in the chamber. He was wearing a black fanny pack crammed with bullets. He had two more loaded 9 mm magazines in his pockets. In his backpack, police found two large knives and still more ammo.
“Tran admitted to reloading at least once in order to be able to continue shooting,” the police wrote in their complaint. In a search warrant affidavit, police alleged that Tran confessed, saying that he thought cars had been following him, and that the drivers had been parking in front of his house, revving their engines, and waking him up.
Detectives found a note on a desk in Tran's bedroom. “Random Kill, Fake Plates,” it said. All over his walls, he had scrawled “12/12/12.”
“There’s not a clear motive that we are aware of,” prosecutor Jessica Stott told HuffPost.
A judge granted Tran’s defense attorney Susan Drabek's request for a mental-health evaluation of her client. “He has a history of mental health issues“ she explained. “The family was without health insurance. … There was not much they could do without health insurance. The resources available to them were virtually nil.”
On the one-month anniversary of Devin’s murder, Aryal attended her first support group meeting. She said she hasn’t managed to do much more than sit on her couch with the TV’s white noise. She has been in her bedroom only to grab clothes. “I try to get in and out of there quickly,” she explained. She keeps her bedroom door closed at all times.
Aryal hasn't forgotten the toys that Devin left on her bed on his last night. She cannot touch them. She cannot look at them. “They're waiting for him to come back,” she said.
Six Weeks
Aleya Criswell
Marquita Thompson's 21-year-old cousin Aleya Criswell had been the unintended victim of a shooting in her Fort Smith, Ark., home town on the afternoon of Dec. 29, 2012. Less than two months later, Thompson woke up in the middle of the night and headed to the bathroom. Peering into the living room, she thought she spotted Aleya sitting on the couch. So she sat down next to her.
“Did it hurt?” Thompson asked this vision of Aleya. She had always wanted to know.
Aleya giggled at her cousin's question. Yes, she said, she felt pain. “Like I got stung by a bee,” she assured. “That’s what she said,” Thompson recalled. “She told me to tell her mama that she loves her, that’s she’s okay.”
It was about 3 a.m. Thompson thought she talked to Aleya for about seven minutes before she flashed "a real pretty smile" -- just like in the photo a Texas aunt had made of her with angel wings -- and "floated up to my ceiling." Thompson was suddenly back in her bed. She felt a little scared
“It was like a dream to me,” Thompson, 29, said. “I don’t know if it was a dream.”
Thompson called her grandmother. It was one of those nights where nobody could sleep. Thompson’s grandmother told her she had just gotten off the phone with Aleya’s mother and one of Aleya's aunts. Neither had been visited by Aleya. They were just unable to stop thinking about her.
On the phone, Thompson started to cry. The two ended up talking for an hour.
Aleya’s death had felt so unreal, so arbitrary.
The first of the many dominos leading to Aleya's death fell the night before, at a high school basketball game. The sister of Aleya's partner fought with the sister's boyfriend -- her baby's father -- after he showed up with someone else. It got heated and physical. But later that night, the two patched things up. Only Aleya’s partner, Nikki, wouldn’t let it go. She arranged to confront her sister's boyfriend at a park the next day.
Nikki, her mother, Aleya’s brothers and other relatives went along. Aleya took a seat in the back of their van. When the boy didn’t show, they thought better of it and drove off. As they were leaving, they saw the boy with a friend. Jonathan Jackson, 23, opened fire on the van at May Avenue and North L Street, police said.
Aleya’s brothers won’t talk about the shooting. Shortly after it happened, Thompson said she got the brothers into a room. The driver gunned the van as the shots were fired. Once they got down the street, Aleya giggled. "Y’all, I think I was shot,” she said. The brothers thought Aleya was playing. “No, you all. I’ve been shot,” she said. She had been hit in the back.
They drove straight to Sparks Regional Medical Center. Relatives gathered by the dozens in a quiet room. When doctors broke the news Aleya had died, her mother, Clarissa Tucker, fainted. It took at least five minutes to revive her.
A few days earlier, on Christmas, as everyone in the family gathered to open presents, Aleya began to sing in the kitchen. “Everyone got real quiet,” recalled an aunt, Niecy Cannon, 44. “We were just listening to her. I’ve heard her sing but not like that. … Everybody cheered her on. I couldn’t believe it.”
“Y’all heard that?” Aleya asked. Singing was the only time she could get church-mouse shy.
Aleya was slowly coming into her own. After bouncing around, she had gotten seasonal work at the local Walmart that she thought might stick. She had effectively become a mother to her 3-year-old niece and 2-year-old nephew -- and liked it. She was still young enough to dream big, a bedroom gospel singer with aspirations for a real stage, runway beautiful who wanted to smile at something more than a cellphone camera.
Charles Thompson Sr., 74, Aleya’s grandfather, spends most of his days by himself while his wife Martha works as a health aide. Aleya visited often. He digs in his garden and tinkers with a ’76 Chevy pickup -- anything to stay out of the house, he said. Once inside, where he's not so busy, his granddaughter’s death will hit. “The minute I get in the house and sit down after about five or 10 minutes, I’m thinking about her,” he explained. “I try not to think about her too much but I can’t keep from it.”
Kathie Thompson, 47, one of Aleya’s aunts, said she can no longer listen to music. After a fire, Aleya and her girlfriend had moved into her apartment for a while. Every Sunday, the two would sit and listen to the slow jams program on 102.7 FM. She bought a little radio just for that purpose.
The radio sits on top of her microwave, unplugged. “I just don't do it anymore. I'm scared I might hear a song she liked on the radio,” Thompson said. “It’s just way too difficult.”
Tucker can still hear Aleya in the house.
"I have been having really bad anxiety attacks,” Tucker said. “I keep thinking I hear her. I have to realize that she's not really there anymore. I can hear her singing."
Kathie has seen her, too, once while staying at Tucker's after Aleya’s death. Her little niece had seen something at the back door and woke her. “We were sleeping in the living room,” Kathie Thompson remembered. “I raised up. It was a shadow. You know how you know a person’s face? It was her … We all just stared at the back window.”
Cannon said she had seen Aleya twice sitting in her living room. A couple of weeks ago, she spotted Aleya standing in her hallway. She couldn’t go back to sleep. Her husband, she said, has yet to see his niece. “He sleeps too hard,” Cannon explained. “If I see her I’ll tap him … I’ll ask him ‘Did you see her?’ and he’ll say no. He’ll go back to sleep and he’ll try to hold me. But that doesn’t help.”
Courtney Robinson, 19, used to date one of Aleya’s brothers, Tino. Even after their breakup, she still talked to Aleya all the time. About 10 days after the killing, she tried to chat with Aleya on Facebook. “Hey girl,” she wrote. It took Robinson five minutes to realize Aleya wasn’t going to write back.
Shortly after Aleya's death, Tino discovered she had saved a recording on her phone of herself singing. He quickly downloaded it and passed it from one family member to another and another. It’s been on heavy rotation since. “We all got it on our phone," Kathie said.
Marquita said she thinks Aleya recorded it in her bathroom. Tucker insisted she recorded her daughter in her dining room before Thanksgiving. It’s one minute, 19 seconds long and Aleya doesn’t start to sing until 17 seconds in.
The slow R&B sounds far away and distorted. You need headphones to hear Aleya’s soft, high pleas. She knows this is not a good take. Midway, she complains that her voice is cracking. Toward the very end, she says half-jokingly, “I fucked up.” She barely raises her voice above the canned beat.
“You say you wanna be with me,” she coos just high enough so you can hear the words. “But you cannot right now.”
Kathie plays that one minute and 19 seconds every morning. “That’s all I do,” she said. “I have to hear her voice. … That’s the only voice we got.”
10 Months
Melanie Colon
Gun violence happened before Sandy Hook elementary and the Aurora theater shooting. In some instances, the media took an interest. Several print outlets, including The Philadelphia Inquirer, reported on the discovery of Melanie Colon’s body on May 12. The 22-year-old mother had gone missing a few days earlier. She was found in a wooded area behind an apartment building, a 10 or 15-minute drive north of her home. Colon was struck six times at close range with 9 mm bullets. Reynaldo Torres, the male friend she was last seen with, hasn't been seen since.
Outside Melanie’s house is a large spray-painted mural of her framed in bands of heavenly yellow. The mural, hung on a utility pole, is can’t-miss on their skinny street in North Philadelphia. At night, when the feeling strikes, the family will illuminate the sign with white Christmas lights or candles on a wicker shelf they've tied to the pole. They'll offer Catholic prayers to her.
Inside the house, there’s another large picture of Melanie on the mantel in the front room with more pictures tucked into the frame. Upstairs, there’s her bedroom. It’s a sunny Tuesday in early March. But it’s like her murder happened yesterday.
“Yo man, I didn’t know that was your daughter.”
The man was in Louis Colon’s ear. He had come across the narrow street, this man in the orange Polo shirt, to give Colon a grip and a message. “When you find that nigger, I got some hot shit,” he promised. “We’ll light [him] up.”
Colon just nodded, slumped his rounded shoulders, and made his I-got-to-goes to the man.
He jumped into his silver SUV. He just wanted to take his murdered daughter’s 5-year-old son to the playground. He'd just gotten off the phone with his therapist and was talking about seeing him that evening. Those sessions had been a near daily activity since the murder.
He knew the man in the Polo shirt from prison, where they served together -- Colon doing four years for distributing cocaine nearly a decade ago. The man had recently gotten out. Colon was surprised to see him, and even more surprised how little he'd changed. “Yo, I don’t like that,” Colon said from behind the wheel as his car snaked past his neighborhood’s trash-lined vacant houses and bombed out lots. “If I see him, I’m going to avoid him.”
Colon's face, already damp, started to perspire more heavily. “I just want to leave,” he continued, his voice rough and low. He has asthma and keeps an albuterol pump with him at all times. Every breath sounded like effort. “I should have never came back to the neighborhood. If I could have never came back to this neighborhood, maybe my daughter would still be alive.” In the neighborhood, he'd been robbed at gunpoint twice. A week after Melanie was killed, a man was fatally shot in the face. His wife found the man and comforted him until the police arrived.
This revenge offer was not unusual, Colon said. As soon as Melanie's body was found, the whole neighborhood seemed to offer itself up as gun dealer, getaway driver, whatever needed to be done. Friends, associates, just guys Colon knew as faces on the block urged him toward revenge. He hated the pressure.
“The worst part is thinking about it -- murdering somebody,” Colon said, pacing in his front room, Melanie’s big picture staring down at him from the mantel. “That’s not me. I wasn’t brought up like that. … They think it’s going to trigger me.” He'd gotten close to 10 offers, he said, most right after Melanie was killed.
“I had to get rough with a guy,” Colon said. “Not rough, but a little hostile. … What good is it going to do? For real, I don’t want anymore killing. I don’t want anybody else to die.”
It’s hard keeping it together. Colon and his wife Marybell, who he married after his prison stint, are raising nine children and grandchildren between them. They have Melanie’s son on weekends. Marybell works during the day at a nonprofit that helps teens and young adults earn their GED and enroll in college. At night, after a few Budweisers or Coronas, Colon will put on some of Melanie’s favorite salsa or merengue music and dance in the street staring up at her mural. Sometimes he doesn't remember doing it.
Colon suffers from depression and has for years; he was diagnosed with it in prison. He said he felt guilt about getting locked up and not being there for his kids. He and Marybell have been going to Bible study on Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings. Every day, at noon, Marybell calls her husband. "Where are you?" she asks. "What are you doing?"
“He doesn’t talk about suicide or anything like that. You just don’t know,” explained Marybell, who has known Colon since grade school. “Because of that, I watch him a lot, you know? I keep in touch with him. We all keep in touch with each other. We are all watching each other.” Every night, Marybell goes through two questions with Colon: What was your high? What was your low?
Louis Colon and Melanie's son this past ChristmasWhen he is not going to counseling, Colon operates as the family’s safety net. Throughout the day, he checks in on everyone, taking care of doctor appointments, handling the groceries, making runs to the playground. When his schizophrenic son can't sleep, Colon will stay up all night with him. Another son has autism and lives with a grandmother down the block. If he calls in need of one-on-one time, Colon is there, ready with his son's favorite McDonald's. Around the corner, he makes sure to look after his sister and her three kids. "I call him 'The Eagle,'" Marybell said.
The morning of Melanie’s disappearance, Colon’s arm went numb. He thought it might be early signs of a heart attack. Melanie urged him to go to the emergency room. He had to be transferred to another hospital. The checkup took all day. After running an errand, Melanie returned home. She talked to her father one last time. “She’s home,” he said. “That’s what comes into my head -- she’s safe.” He pointed to his head. “I told her stay home with the baby.”
During my visit 10 months after the murder, the home was bare, as if preserved as a Melanie museum. There was no clutter. No warm food smells. Tuesday night was Melanie's night to cook. Two weeks ago, Marybell found one of Melanie’s green dress shirts in a pile of clothes in the basement. She put the shirt up to her nose. “It smelled like her,” she recalled. “I just bawled. I couldn’t take it.” She went upstairs and showed Colon.
Louis' son, Ralphiee, 18, discovered his parents in communion over the shirt. “You want to see something crazy?” he asked. He went upstairs and retrieved a mesh laundry bag full of Melanie’s clothes from his closet. The bag had been his secret. He met the family in the front room and offered up the bag filled with her old shirts and long johns.
“Everyone started pulling clothes and smelling them and crying,” Marybell said. “It was like Melanie was still there,” Ralphiee explained. “Her scent was still on the clothes.”
By then, Ralphiee had decided that he couldn’t live in the house anymore. “We’re angry all the time,” he explained. “It’s mixed emotions at my house. My sister lived with us. She lived with mom. She lived with dad. I hate being in this house. I hate being home.” He didn’t make a big deal about it. He just moved into his younger cousin Dominic’s house. Even there, he wakes up crying.
Melanie had been Ralphiee's safety net after his father went to prison and his biological mother entered rehab. Melanie made sure that he was picked up from school, that he was well fed, that he was happy. Even after their father returned home and married Marybell, Melanie could be fiercely protective. Just a few weeks before her death, Melanie heard that Ralphiee had tussled with a guy who was high on PCP at a nearby Chinese carry-out. It was past midnight, but Melanie grabbed a bat and went looking for the guy. When she found him hiding in a house, he refused to come outside and fight her. "If anything would happen to her brothers and sisters, Melanie was on it," Marybell said.
Ralphiee was the last family member to see her alive. He was supposed to go with her that evening, but he couldn’t fit in Torres’ Mazda two-seater. Melanie said she was just going to get her son something to eat; she'd be right back. In his dreams, she looks the same way she left him on May 8. “Her hair is short, blond, crimped-up like it was,” he said. “She had her black tights on, her black flats, and she had her checkered red and white shirt on. She looked really beautiful that day.”
Ralphiee was in the process of finishing high school. Now he visits her grave at night and posts photos of those trips to the Facebook tribute page he created. It’s become his home -- the place where he can write about his lowest moments, post from an endless cache of old snapshots (Melanie at prom dressed in lavender silk, Melanie with her son, Melanie with her eyes closed blowing a kiss), encourage justice for his sister and chat with “#Team Melanie.”
"I'm not letting MY SISTERS CASE GET COLD," Ralphiee wrote his Team recently. "Don't never give up."
Revenge means helping find his sister's killer and seeing him get justice in a courtroom. About four months ago, Ralphiee said he got a tip from a girl in Camden. The girl claimed to have spotted the man Melanie was last seen with -- Torres. Ralphiee texted her. He and his father arranged to meet her in Philly. “I thought it was real,” Ralphiee said.
Colon remembered his heart pounding as they waited in the car for the girl outside a downtown shopping mall. “It was crazy, man. We really thought, oh man.” He pauses from his seat on the couch. He just stops talking. They waited three hours. But she never showed.
Detective Charles Grebloski, one of two Philadelphia police investigators assigned to Melanie's murder, said the case is cold. “Right now, Torres is the only lead in the case,” he said. “There’s nothing. They dumped her in a park, a public park. We have no witnesses there of her getting dumped. It looks like she was just dumped there. You could tell it was there for a day or two.”
In October, Colon’s namesake, “Little Louis,” was arrested after fighting with one of his father’s friends. The friend had fallen on hard times and had been staying with the family. Marybell and Ralphiee think Little Louis's grief sparked the fight.
Little Louis had argued with Melanie before her death. He never got the chance to offer a real apology. His anger issues have gotten worse. He is still in jail on charges stemming from his arrest.
The police thought Little Louis had a gun and searched the house. They didn’t find one. The family is conflicted over whether Little Louis ever brought a gun home.
Marybell said she thinks he had something. Colon said he confronted his son about it and he told him it was a BB gun. "He wouldn't lie to me," Colon insisted. "I don't think he would."
Although he never saw the gun, Ralphiee is sure his brother had one. He said Little Louis had told him about the gun, that it was for protection. “After Melanie, you can’t trust nobody out here,” Ralphiee remembered Little Louis telling him.
“I thought it was a real gun," Ralphiee said. "He always told me he was going to get a license to carry. Do you need a license to carry a BB gun?” Marybell said she worried that if he had a gun, he might use it on whoever he thought murdered Melanie.
In mid-March, Colon’s therapist threatened to call the police on him during a morning session. “He wanted me to talk about my daughter. He wanted to ask me some questions about what I’ve been going through. I didn’t feel like it. He said 'you’re not [being] compliant.'”
Compliant. That's a prison word. Colon had enough. He kicked a chair across the therapist's room. “I felt a little relief,” he said.