KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A Kansas City family is grieving over the death of a 3-year-old boy killed Sunday morning in a drive-by shooting.
Police are still searching for the killer, and families who know firsthand the pain of losing a child to gun violence are offering their support.
“This has become an everyday thing,” said Pat Clarke, a community activist, Monday afternoon outside the home of 3-year-old Amorian Hale, who died Sunday morning in a drive-by shooting. “Now they’re using babies for target practice.”
Police say Amorian died when someone riddled his family's home with more than 20 bullets.
“His smile, his smile, you know, he just had the biggest smile,” his father Christopher Hale said. “I love him, I am going to miss him and I am going to think about him every day.”
It’s a tragedy that feels all too familiar to this Kansas City community – another innocent child in the metro killed in the line of fire.
“All the senseless people shooting up houses and stuff man, that just needs to stop man,” Christopher said.
“A 3-year-old kid?” Kimberly Blackmon, Machole Stewart’s grandmother, asked in disbelief. “What could the 3-year-old kid do? And Machole wasn't but 10 and it's just, it's horrible. It's a terrible, horrible feeling.”
Blackmon said you just don't quite understand her grief until you experience it for yourself, and said the feeling of loss unfortunately doesn't get any easier with time.
“They got a long way to go,” she said of Amorian’s family, “and it hurts, it hurts every day.”
Blackmon lost Machole, a bright-eyed 10-year-old girl, last fall in a drive-by shooting at their KCK home and said to her, it still feels like yesterday.
“Just hold your head up and do some praying,” was Blackmon’s message to Amorian’s family. “And hold on to each other, and help each other try to grieve through it because it's not easy. It's not easy.”
Family members of Angel Hooper, a 6-year-old girl who died in a drive-by shooting in South Kansas City less than two weeks after Machole, agree time does not heal all.
“It’s just like is this real?” remembers Ashley Newson, Angel’s cousin, of the tragedy. “Did this really happen? And unfortunately how time heals wounds, it doesn’t necessarily heal the wounds of you losing a child.”
Despite their own grief, both families believe things can change for the better, and that if the community can band together, they can stop the violence and ensure no other family has to endure tragedy like this again.
“That’s the same thing I would like this little boy’s parents to feel as well,” Newson said, “that somebody out there does care and we are trying to do something about it.”
The Ad-Hoc Group Against Crime will have a vigil for little Amorian on Wednesday night at 6 p.m. outside his family’s home. Angel’s family said they're also planning a march for the child this upcoming Sunday, with a time and place yet to be set.
Amori is one of seven children in the metro to have been killed in recent months.
A Go Fund Me account has been set up to help pay for Amorian’s funeral expenses. Click here if you want to contribute.