KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Some of those fighting against the violence in our city have found themselves in the middle of it.
Healing Pathway Victims Service Agency steps in when a victim of violent crime leaves behind children. They're what Monica Roberts calls "co-victims."
"We have amazing volunteers that dedicate hours and resources to serve and advocate for co-victims of homicide, and here they are personally being impacted by it," she said. "We’re 22 days into the new year, and here we are already, two of our advocates who have lost family members."
It’s a painful reality for the relatives of Leondre Thompson-Jones, who was gunned down just two weeks ago in a Northland apartment, near Englewood and Scandia.
"The initial shock obviously, you know fear, not knowing the details of what happened," his older brother Larnell Jones said.
He and his family run a funeral home. He lends his time and resources to Healing Pathway. Now, Larnell is on the receiving end of the grief that follows violence.
"It was almost surreal," he said of his brother’s death. "No one ever expects to or even wants to remotely go through anything like this ever in their lives."
He said his 20-year-old brother loved cooking and music and was a great dad.
"It was not just me, but it was his mother, his father, his child, the mother of his child," said Delawrence Shepherd Sr., the family’s oldest cousin.
He said they’ll use Leondre’s death to keep pushing back against the violence and propping up the victims who are left behind.
"After their home-going services, everyone’s hugging and everyone’s calling, and everyone’s there for you; that’s going to slowly fade away, and it’s going to stop. And those parents, those siblings, those children are going to be alone," he said.
"It’s definitely hard to keep going in the midst of their own sorrow," Roberts said. "I’m very thankful the two volunteers that have been impacted, they want to work harder. They want to keep giving because they have huge hearts and they totally understand the mission."