DECATUR, Ill. (WCIA)– 22-year-old Shemilah Sanders died Tuesday after being shot over the weekend. Family and friends had a vigil to honor her life and others who have died from gun violence. “Everyday it’s hard. I can’t sleep,” said Shemuel Sanders. That’s the pain this father wants to keep others from feeling. On Saturday police say Shemilah Sanders was shot in the neck near the Garfield Underpass. She was taken to the hospital and died Tuesday. Her father Shemuel Sanders says she was a mother of two who had a lot more life to live. “That’s the worst feeling I ever felt to lose my baby. That was my baby girl. She got two beautiful kids,” said Sanders.
A group called Hearts of Angels organized a vigil near the same place Shemilah Sanders was shot. Some of the mothers who are a part of the group know what’s like to lose a child to gun violence. “We got to do something. Decatur is so small, and we either know the children from our children or we know the parents of the children,” said Janet Hill. “If people could stop being afraid to speak out, it could save another life,” said Vivian Penermon.
Two men were arrested in connection with Shemilah’s death. One of them is being charged with murder. Sanders hopes while people continue to protest for Black Lives Matter and ending police brutality, they will also consider the violence happening in their own neighborhoods. “What about when another black man kills another black man or like my baby. She was innocent,” said Sanders, “We need to have the same energy when we kill each other…We need to get out in our communities and find out in our communities what’s going on,” said Sanders.
There were two men arrested in connection to the shooting on Saturday. Lavanski Folks is being charged with unlawful possesion of a firearm and aggravated discharge. Paul Folks is charged with murder. The group that organized Friday’s vigil is also planning a Gun Violence March for Peace and Balloon Release this month. It will happen Saturday, June 27th at Hess Park.