Savannah citizens calling to stop violence after child's death

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - A 12-year-old boy is Savannah's second homicide victim of 2018.

John Cooksey was shot at a funeral on Sunday. Savannah Police have charged a 15-year-old with his murder.

Deion Pickney is in the Juvenile Detention Center, being held on initial aggravated assault charges which were upgraded to murder charges on Tuesday after Cooksey's death. Family friends say the death is devastating, but they hope it's a wake-up call to stop gun violence in the city.

A day after calling for prayers for Cooksey's recovery, a community is now mourning his loss. Cooksey family spokesperson, Todd Rhodes, says John was a kid who was full of life.

"John, great kid, man. Loving kid. Respectable kid."

Despite the tragedy, Rhodes says John's family isn't dwelling on his death.

"They're strong. They are so strong. They're very compassionate. They're very loving, and they're some praying people. They are praying. They're not negative people. They're not talking negative," Rhodes said.

Rhodes says they're not negative because John's life isn't the only young life lost in the shooting. According to the police report, someone came into the funeral home and started shooting.

"In that situation, nobody wins."

That's why he hopes Cooksey's death is a wake-up call to the pastors, to families, to young people - that gun violence is taking too many people too soon and must stop.

"They need somebody to talk to. They need somebody to encourage them and it's time to put boots on the ground and for us to get into these communities and really mentor them by showing them that there's a better way to life than just being put on a shirt, being buried, or being thrown in jail."

That call is already being heard by a mom who lost her son to gun violence. She's asking other women to come together on Sunday at 4 p.m. at Holy Lutheran Church to stand in solidarity against violence.

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