On May 18, Katrina Grady, a nursing assistant for more than 20 years, stopped on the side of Warrior Road to provide aid to what she believed was an injured person in a car. The car was empty, and Grady’s family came under fire.
Her 8-year-old daughter, Katilynn, was hit by a rifle bullet and injured in the shoulder and head. Grady was told by doctors that it was a miracle she was alive. “The doctors told me that if she had moved her head any other kind of way, it would have been another situation right now,” Grady said.
Tuesday, Grady stood before a crowd at a press conference arranged by Mayor Randall Woodfin and made an emotional plea for change as her daughter stood off to the side.
Woodfin announced formation of a $125,000 Gun Violence Against Children Fund, a collaboration with more than 20 churches and organizations to combat gun violence against children in the city. Crime Stoppers will administer the fund to pay $25,000 in reward money for information leading to the arrest of individuals responsible in each of five cases involving children under the age of 10. Arrests already have been made in a sixth case involving another child.
“Never in a million years would I have expected something like that to happen,” Grady told the crowd. “For six kids to get shot, we’ve got to do better. Somebody knows who (did) this to my child and I want justice. It hurt me more than anything.”
Several local faith leaders, including the Rev. Thomas Beavers of The Star Church, members of Crime Stoppers and Birmingham Housing Authority President David Northern joined Woodfin for the press conference.
“There are many things in this community that are right and many that are wrong, and as I have expressed, this crosses a line when children are involved. There’s a line that has been crossed when children are hurt, there is a line that has been crossed when children have been shot, and there is definitely a line that has been crossed when children are killed,” Woodfin said.
“None of us have the luxury to sit on the sideline and say, ‘Oh, that’s just another shooting,’” Woodfin continued. “The people you see standing here, the people on the other end of these cameras, those watching and viewing right now, the emotions that come to mind are upset, anger, and hurt and sadness, but none of that weighs as heavy as the actual mothers and fathers and grandparents whose child has been shot.”
Beavers gave a passionate speech calling on the people of Birmingham to come together in these uncertain times. Beavers approached the podium and started by asking the public two questions: “The first question I want to ask is do black lives matter? The second question I want to ask is do black lives matter to black people?”
“The one thing all of us have in common is we are all seeking the good of Birmingham, Alabama, and all of us are seeking the prosperity of Birmingham, Alabama,” Beavers said. “It is so easy for us to sit up here and point a finger at what people are not doing but understand that whenever you point a finger at someone else, you have three fingers pointing back at yourself. How can we as a community point the finger at other people when we have a no-snitch rule inside of our community and we refuse to speak up?”
Beavers called on people to start to make change themselves instead of waiting for others to make the change for them. “We have the power to be the change we want to see in Birmingham. This is the reason all of us have stepped up.”
Woodfin asked Birmingham residents to speak up if they see or hear something. “Help us help get these people off the street who have harmed children.”
The five cases identified for the Gun Violence Against Children Fund are:
- 4: Someone fired shots into 2-year-old Major Turner’s home at about 10 p.m. in the Kimbrough Homes Housing Community. Turner died the next day.
- April 4: A 5-year-old boy was one of five people shot and injured at Patton Park on Easter Sunday shortly before 7 p.m. A 32-year-old woman was killed in the incident in the 1200 block of Sipsey Street.
- May 7: A 9-year-old boy was injured when someone fired into his home in the 4700 block of Avenue T.
- May 18: The Grady case, which happened in the 1400 block of Warrior Road at about 9:30 p.m.
- May 22: A 5-year-old boy was shot and injured along with two adults in their car in the 8300 block of 1st Avenue North.
People with information about the cases can call 205-254-7777 to provide information.
Woodfin Supports Chiefs Despite No Confidence Vote
Woodfin also addressed a Fraternal Order of Police May vote of no confidence in Birmingham Police Department Chief Patrick Smith and Assistant Chief Darnell Davenport, a vote that cited an increase in violent crime in the city and low morale throughout the police department.
“I want to make myself very clear on this: if the FOP president wants to talk, he has my cell number and we can talk about anything,” Woodfin said. “Chief Patrick Smith has 100% of my support. He is my police chief. Period. He is this community’s police chief and a handful of people in the FOP do not dictate who is the leader of this police department. He will continue to lead this department and invest in the morale and resources of the officers, the men and women who are on the frontline of this police department, and I will continue to encourage him to do everything he can to keep the citizens of Birmingham safe.”