After son killed, woman raising granddaughter finds solace in Charlotte nonprofit

CHARLOTTE — Wednesday marks 30 years that Mothers of Murdered Offspring, also known as MOM-O, has been helping local families who have lost loved ones to violence.

Channel 9 is shining a light on the important work the group does. For every person killed in our community, family members are left behind to pick up the pieces.

Nikki McNair found refuge with MOM-O after her son was killed in 2020. Her story is like so many others -- dealing with the long-lasting impacts of a loved one’s death.

The grandmother opened up to Channel 9′s crime reporter Hunter Sáenz, describing the pain of losing her son and how, in the wake of his death, she’s had to become a mother all over again.

Pictures of Demarcus Mack are propped up inside Nikki McNair’s home. A blanket with pictures of his face rests over the couch, and his hologram is also illuminated in a crystal cube.

“Anyone that walks in my house, his presence is going to be here,“ McNair told Sáenz.

The rhythm strip of his final heartbeat sits just in front of where his ashes now rest. It’s a painful, yet beautiful reminder that he’s home.

“I could not even fathom burying my child because my baby had to come back home with me,” Nikki McNair said.

She’s still grieving her son’s loss. He was shot near The Brookshire in 2020 and rushed to the hospital, where no amount of lifesaving effort could help.

“I can’t remember anything other than grabbing my oldest daughter and falling to my knees and asking ‘God, why me?’” she said.

The day Mack left this earth, he also left behind his daughter, China. Two years after losing her dad, she lost her mom.

Now, McNair is raising a child all over again.

“At this point, I have to be everything for this child,” she said. “Now I have to stand in the gap. I have to make sure that she’s good. I have to go through life dealing with her pain to where it puts mine on the back burner.”

It’s a balancing act the mother of four never expected.

“This is a kid that don’t let me go nowhere without her because she says, ‘You may leave and never come back like my daddy,’” McNair said. “Sometimes I can look at her and say, ‘You look just like him. So because you look just like your dad, I don’t want to look at you.’ But I know that I have no other option in life, other than to make sure that she’s taken care of.”

It’s a heartbreaking reality for families across Charlotte -- families struck by gun violence. The collateral damage is forced onto families by those who rob them of their loved ones.

“They need to understand that they are hurting families. They are traumatizing children,” McNair said. “If they have children, they would not want their children to suffer the impact of losing them. Stop. It has to stop somewhere.”

McNair does all she can to move forward while being focused on parenting her granddaughter, who recently celebrated her ninth birthday. She keeps in mind that greater than any birthday gift, perhaps, is the one her son left behind.

“You have to believe that it’s going to be OK,” she said.

An arrest was made in the death of Demarcus Mack, and McNair said they are currently awaiting the trial.

McNair added that it’s amazing to have a local organization like MOM-O, where she has people who truly understand what she’s going through. That makes it easier to navigate her tragedy.

Her granddaughter, China, also gets to meet with other kids in the organization who have lost their parents.

>> To learn more about MOM-O and donate to support its work, click here.

(WATCH PREVIOUS: 9 Investigates: The community efforts to stop gun violence among kids, teens)

Hunter Sáenz

Hunter Sáenz, wsoctv.com

Hunter is a reporter for Channel 9.