JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It’s been nearly five years since Maurice Hobbs was killed.
Monday would have been Hobbs’ 23rd birthday. He was killed just days after his 18th birthday in the Southside Estates neighborhood of Jacksonville.
If you drive down Atlantic Boulevard this month, you’ll see a billboard that wishes a happy 23rd birthday to Hobbs.
His mother, Latasha Hobbs, remembers celebrating with her son on his 18th birthday — the last she’d spend with him.
“It’s been 1,824 days to the day since this journey for me and my family began,” Latasha Hobbs told News4JAX on Monday, “Just two days prior to Jan. 26, we celebrated my Reese’s 18th birthday. Today, five years ago, we were all dancing in the kitchen.”
Maurice Hobbs was shot and killed on Jan. 26, 2017, as his mother was on her way to pick him up.
She said she was close enough to her son that she heard the gunshots.
In the five years since then, no arrests have been made in the case.
“The individual or individuals responsible for the murder of my child not being held accountable at this time, there being no arrest, it amplifies every undeserving emotion that I feel,” Latasha Hobbs said.
Since losing her son to gun violence, Latasha Hobbs has been a vocal advocate for gun reform, with the hope that other parents won’t suffer as she has.
“I had to find a purpose in the pain,” she said. “I had to really allow that pain that I feel every day to be the driving force for me to advocate for gun safety legislation to help keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them and to really promote gun safety education.”
In 2021, according to News4JAX data, 435 people were shot in Jacksonville — down from 554 people shot in 2020.
In 2021, Jacksonville reported 128 homicides. Of those, 106 are considered murders. Last year, the city reported a 23-year peak of 176 homicides with 141 of those considered murders.
Roughly 85% of the homicides reported last year in the city involved guns.
Each of those killings leaves a family grieving and changed forever.
“Although I focus on the love and light of my son, I cannot deny or suppress the truth that I live the pain of every single bullet that pierced through my son’s chest,” Latasha Hobbs said. “His life is my fight. His love is my love. His legacy is up to me to define.”