JACKSONVILLE, Fla – Many families are spending the holiday together, but others, who have lost loved ones to gun violence, are marking another Christmas without them. Tina Gray is experiencing her first Christmas without her son, Trevor Gray.
Trevor was shot and killed while sitting in his car at an Arlington intersection, just two days into the new year. His death is believed to be the city’s first murder in 2019.
According to News4Jax records, there have been 151 homicides in Jacksonville this year. Of those cases, 126 are being investigated as murders. Gray told News4Jax she’s honoring her son this Christmas by helping others.
“It’s hard during times like this. We’re out doing all these things, but yet, he’s present with us in spirit. But it’s hard not having him here,” she said.
Through her group, Compassionate Warriors of Jacksonville, Gray is working with other grieving families, helping children in foster care and working with the homeless.
She said helping those in need was something Trevor was passionate about.
"When he was a little boy, if we drove by and we saw someone that was homeless... we stopped and fed them," Gray said. "Or gave them money, whatever we could."
Gray said she still hears similar stories about Trevor. She recalled his laughter, compassion and willingness to be there for others. While the grief is there all the time, the comfort bear gifted to her through the Justice Coalition brings hope. It was literally stitched together with articles of his clothing.
Gray has a message for other families going through the same tragedy.
“We’re all part of a family that we never asked to be a part of. And the grief can really get you in a dark place. You’ve got to fight real hard to move forward, and I just encourage others to do something in honor of the memory of their loved one," she said.
Through Compassionate Warriors of Jacksonville, the Gray family is holding a candlelight vigil Saturday, Dec. 28, at Friendship Fountain in memory of all homicide victims. It begins at 5:30 p.m. People are encouraged to bring pictures, banners, anything they feel comfortable bringing to represent their loved one.