JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Ten years ago Wednesday, Johnnie Gatlin and her two nephews, 12-year-old Chris and 13-year-old Deon Kirkland, were shot and killed outside Gatlin's home in one of the most heinous crimes Jacksonville has ever seen.
Family and friends of the murders victims will gather Wednesday night for a vigil in the Grand Park area of Northwest Jacksonville to honor their memory.
The crime scene is burned into the minds of neighbors and victims' families. It's also something law enforcement officers say they'll never forget.
The three were gunned down at the corner of Third and Fairfaix streets in a crime of retaliation, except they weren't the ones the killers wanted.
They were on their way home from football practice when a shower of bullets from an automatic weapon sprayed the car they were in and killed them.
The murders sent the community into an outrage, and it took police less than 10 days to track down and arrest the killers. Carlton Lumpkins, Maurice Silas and Latroy Bouknight were each sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Channel 4 crime analyst Ken Jefferson worked for the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office at the time and says it has forever changed the police force and the neighborhood.
"A lot of the people that were talked to and interviewed well after the incident say they felt safer, that the community was acting a whole lot better simply because of increased patrols," Jefferson said. "Something positive has come out of it. Unfortunately, three people had to die for that to happen."
Copyright 2012 by News4Jax.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.