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Mother Of Slain Teenager Calls On Community To Rally For Change

Reported: Apr. 25, 2014 9:43 PM EDT
Updated: Apr. 26, 2014 7:43 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Taisha Walker) -- Deanna McKinney recalled the night she lost her son, Tymel, to gun violence.

"When I stood up, that's when the bullet came through my window," Deanna said. "So I went back down, I crawled to my door, pulled open the door and it was nothing but smoke. I could just smell the gunfire and my son was lying exactly where I'm standing."

Tymel was sitting on the porch of his Sixth Avenue home Wednesday night, enjoying pizza when he was gunned down by two masked men. Anthony Gaddy, 23, of Detroit and a juvenile have been charged with Tymel's murder.

Deanna said she moved from New York to Charleston with her only son 13 years ago. Her plan was to escape the crime in her backyard, only to lose Tymel to violence right on her front steps.

"Everybody is like, 'What happened and what is the reason and what do you think?' " Deanna said. "That's not the question we need to be asking ourselves. The question is, now that this has happened what are we gonna do next?"

The single mother said her son was a good kid but sometimes hung around the wrong people. She said he wasn't a Capital High School dropout. In fact, she said her son was enrolled in a G.E.D. program at Garnett Career Center. When asked if her son knew Gaddy, she said she's doubtful.

"I don't think my son actually knew him, because if he knew my son it would have been hard for him to take his life the way he did," she said.

Deanna said her son's death wasn't in vain.

"I don't look at this as a loss," she said. "I look at this as a fight. Sometimes things happen in order for action to be taken, without Megan, there wouldn't be a Megan's Law, without Amber, there would not be the Amber Alert."

Tymel's death has caused her to call on the Charleston community to make a change and take the streets back from criminals so that other children can have a fighting chance.

"Only thing I have is the fire and the passion in me to make a change, not just on the West Side, but the East Side and every other side."

Deanna said she's thankful she had the opportunity to raise Tymel for 18 years and that, coupled with her spirituality, is carrying her through these tough times.

"I worry about my son when he's not at home, I worry about my son when I don't know his every move, I worry about my son because I don't know what's out here," Deanna said. "Now I don't have to worry anymore so I'm at peace."

Tymel's family is planning a unity march on April 30 from 6 - 8 p.m. along Kanawha Blvd. and ending at Haddad River Front Park. Mayor Danny Jones has confirmed he plans to take part in the city-wide event.

Funeral services for Tymel is scheduled for noon on May 3 at Abundant Life Ministries.

Tymel leaves behind a 5-month-old daughter.



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