Friends and family of homicide victims joined together Sunday night to remember their loved ones whose lives were cut short.
The 18th annual vigil for homicide survivors happened at Big Spring Park in Huntsville.
That's where WAAY 31 got the chance to speak with some of the victims' families.
“On December 30, 2014, he was sitting out in my car, listening to music. Two boys came to my house and led him around the curve," said Donna Howell. "He said, ‘Mom, I'm just going to walk around the curve and I'll be right back.’ and I said, ‘Okay, you come right back,’ because it was like 9:30 at night. And five minutes later, I’m holding my son dead in my arms. They set him up and shot him in the back of the head.”
That's the last memory Howell has of her son, Larry, who, she says, was murdered when he was only 16 years old.
“My son died instantly. He felt no pain," she said. "But I was given a life sentence. I don’t get a pardon. And the whole community has been given a life sentence. The ones that were so traumatized. The kids he grew up with.”
That’s why Howell goes to events like the Homicide Survivor Vigil.
“We have to support each other because, to me, this is a war," she said. "We’re losing children in numbers unbelievable. I mean, I’ve got 45 on this shirt and I’ve got five more to add.”
And, unfortunately, Howell isn’t the only one wearing names and photos of victims on her shirt.
One woman at the vigil has two cousins who were killed just days apart: the man killed at Taco Bell last week and the man killed at Budget Inn on Friday.
Howell says the group of hurting people at the vigil is the result of others not caring.
“These kids are growing up with really no respect for human life, because there are very little consequences," she said.
That’s why she works to promote stricter punishment for killers, saying too many murderers get away with only a slap on the wrist.
“Nothing means as much to me as getting these laws changed so another mother doesn’t go through what I’ve gone through,” Howell said.
She says no one deserves that kind of pain.
“I’m standing here, I’m talking, and you look like, ‘Oh, she’s okay, she’s healed.’ No," Howell said. "There’s quiet hours when I’m by myself. I’m broken and I’ll never be the same.”