King Carter was 6 years old. He played Pop Warner football for the 75-pound Junior Bandits and had a smile that lit up his neighborhood. This weekend, he became the latest shockingly young child killed by gun violence in Miami.
The victim has now become the latest rallying cry for community leaders searching for an answer — any answer — to the bloodshed.
"Another child is murdered in Miami-Dade. He was only six. If we cannot solve this crisis, we cannot solve anything in our community," Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho wrote on Twitter.
Carter's story has become eerily familiar in Miami in recent months. Just this past December, 7-year-old Amiere Castro died when a home he was visiting was sprayed with gunfire. More than 100 children have died in Miami from gun violence in the past three years, a recent Miami Herald study found.
Carter was a promising young football player, says Luther Campbell, who was involved with the Pop Warner team on which the boy played.
Lco Family we just lost one of our 75lb player to gun violence send your prayers to his family Blaze Carter pic.twitter.com/nP812rEC41— LUTHER R CAMPBELL (@unclelukereal1) February 21, 2016
His father, Santonio Carter, is an up-and-coming rapper who goes by the name Blaze Carter. This past Saturday around 2:30 p.m., young King Carter was playing with friends outside his apartment complex in Northwest Miami-Dade, just off NW 103rd Street a couple miles west of I-95, when three or four men opened fire from a dark sedan and sped away.
Police say King wasn't the target; the shooters were likely in a gang beef. But the gunfire left the 6-year-old dead on the sidewalk. His father posted an anguished video from outside the hospital.
Yesterday the community mobilized. Dozens marched at a rally led by Tangela Sears, a longtime anti-violence advocate whose own son was fatally shot last year. They demanded justice for King's killers and a solution to the gun-violence epidemic.
"Enough is enough. I'm going to stand with this family in demanding Justice," Sears wrote in an emotional Facebook post.
The question, of course, is what to do. Carvalho, who has made gun violence against children a personal issue, offered the most cogent plan at the rally and on Twitter. He offered five steps to end a culture of silence and retaliation:
.@lopezgovlaw five steps we can take to address community violence. 1. Break code of silence 2. Pass witness-protection legislation— Alberto M. Carvalho (@MiamiSup) February 21, 2016
.@lopezgovlaw 3. Targeted multiagency community policing 4. More after school funding 5. Stiff penalties for gun use within 1k ft of schools— Alberto M. Carvalho (@MiamiSup) February 21, 2016
The most contentious of those plans is the legislation, which is working its way through Tallahassee. The bill would shield witnesses of violent crimes from their names being made public through Florida's Sunshine Law — a move that advocates say would encourage witnesses to speak to police but one that First Amendment groups say would weaken the state's open-records laws.
As for King Carter, police today are still searching for the shooters who killed the 6-year-old. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS.
"Be a man and turn your coward ass in to the authorities for taking King life," Sears wrote on Facebook. "I can't stop, I won't stop. "
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