4 violent crimes victims 1

Shawheen Coon looks at a decorated sign with a picture of her son, Kaylen Ellis, in Fairfield, Thursday. Family members and friends who have lost loved ones to violent crimes, along with volunteers from And Justice for All, decorated a float for Friday's Fourth of July parade. Ellis grew up in Fairfield but was killed in Sacramento in October. (Aaron Rosenblatt/Daily Republic)


Parade float memorializes loved ones lost to violence

By From page A1 | July 04, 2014

FAIRFIELD — “And justice for all” is a phrase repeated daily as Americans recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

The same expression will be part of Friday’s Fourth of July parade in Fairfield.

A group of family members and friends of loved ones who have died violent deaths will participate, holding pictures of those victims.

“We support each other,” said Lisa Gutierrez, who is organizing the And Justice For All entry. “You don’t know the loss until you have been through it.”

Kathy Pierce will walk alongside a decorated trailer, holding a picture of her son, Tyler Grande.

It will mark the second anniversary of the day Grande, 20, was brutally beaten at a party in Vacaville. He died July 15, 2012, after being taken off life support.

He gave life to others through donating his kidneys and heart valves, Pierce said of her son.

In May, Anthony Ruiz, 32, took a plea deal and was sentenced to two years in jail for Grande’s death. He was given credit for good behavior and time served. Pierce figures Ruiz will be back on the streets by the end of the year.

“Our judicial system is so broken,” she said.

Gutierrez’s son, Jesus “Jessie” Amaya, was killed in February 2012. In August 2013, Miguel Bastida was convicted in Amaya’s slaying, though he was not the trigger man. That suspect, Mario Vasquez, remains at large.

“I get a lot of support from the other families,” Pierce said. “It’s good to know that when you think you are losing it, it’s just one of the normal stages of grief.”

She believes everything happens for a reason. But is still struggling to discover the lesson to be learned from the loss of her youngest child.

“What is supposed to come of this?” she asked rhetorically.

Jabri Berry was getting her hair done on April 11 when she got word her husband, Tereaun Berry, 26, had been shot. He died a few hours later.

They were high school sweethearts who wed and were raising two children. The youngest is now 10 months.

“I couldn’t figure out how to get out of bed (after his death),” she said.

After connecting with Gutierrez, Berry said she feels a passion to take a stand against violence. She wants teens to know they don’t have to be a product of their environment.

Berry said too many people she grew up with have died.

“I never expected it to hit so close to home,” she said.

She will carry a photo of her late husband in the parade.

Four men have been arrested on suspicion of being involved in the death of her husband. A fifth remains at large.

Shawheen Coon was at a women’s retreat in Reno when her began to ring about 2 a.m.

“I dropped to my knees and cried,” she said. “I knew they wouldn’t be calling me if it wasn’t bad news.”

Her son, Keylen Jeff Ellis, 29, had been shot and killed in Sacramento. It happened Oct. 27, 2013.

No one has been arrested in her son’s death, she said. Five others were shot at the same time, Their injuries were not life-threatening.

“He never let life get him down,” Coon said of her son. Ellis left behind three sons.

This will be her second time advocating in public for her son. Coon also participated in a Mourning Mothers walk in May.

She encourages parents to talk to their children and encourage them to make the most of their lives.

“Hug your child,” she said. “And, don’t stay mad at them.”

Gutierrez has an annual remembrance, Justice for Jessie, for her son. Last year someone suggested she enter a Justice for Jessie float in the Fourth of July parade.

She decided it was an idea whose time had come but it didn’t just have to be about her son. “We all want justice,” she said.

Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.

Amy Maginnis-Honey

Amy Maginnis-Honey

Amy Maginnis-Honey joined the staff of the Daily Republic in 1980. She’ll tell you she was only 3 at the time. Over the past three decades she’s done a variety of jobs in the newsroom. Today, she covers arts and entertainment and writes for the Living and news pages.

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