Students back to school cope with teen killings over summer

by: Tenikka Smith Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. —

In the past five weeks, three teens have been shot and killed in Charlotte. 

The latest was 13-year-old Khalil Cousart, an Ashley Middle School student. Hawa Gabbidon, 17, and Kevin Washington, 18, were also shot and killed in July.

Their deaths are sure to hit classmates and friends hard as they prepare to return to school without them.

Judy Williams, with the group Mothers of Murdered Offspring, said she worries about the friends and classmates of the victims who will carry their grief into the school year.  Williams was invited to speak to some of those children Thursday night during a Back to School Jam at the Bettie Rae Thomas Rec Center, hosted by Power 98 radio.

“It's not just about getting school supplies, but it's about remembering a part of their community that is gone now, and hopefully it will make a difference in some young person’s life,” Williams said.

Williams will also give out purple wristbands with the words "forever in our hearts." She wants the children to wear the bands to school or wear something purple through the first week of school to remember the lives of their friends.  Purple is the national color for non-violence.

At the spot where Khalil Cousart was shot, Pastor Annette Ross talked with her grandchildren about the violence that ended his life.

"He will never get to fulfill his destiny," she said.

Ross also hopes that other young people in the city honor the lives of their friends by making positive choices and living their lives to the fullest.

"I would say to the young people, ‘Seek God. Put Him first and go to school with the mindset to be better and make a life for themselves,’” Ross said.

Thursday night, friends will hold a second vigil for Khalil Cousart in the place where he was shot at the corner Parkway and Tuckaseegee.

On Friday night, Mothers of Murdered Offspring will hold a neighborhood march and candlelight vigil in memory of Cousart.  It starts at 7:30 p.m. at the Bettie Rae Thomas Rec Center, where Cousart would often play basketball with his friends.