Family members of slain teen Geron Lacy cry during a vigil for him Friday. Photos by Stephanie Rivera.
Long Beach’s religious and local elected leaders joined residents at Ramona Park Friday evening to mourn the recent death of a 16-year-old less than a month after another black youth was shot and killed.
Geron Lacy was shot and killed just before 7:00PM on Tuesday, May 3, Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) officials said.
According to reports from police and family, Lacy was walking home after finishing a game of basketball at Ramona Park. At some point he got involved in a physical altercation with an unknown number of suspects who left but came back a short time later and fatally shot him. He fell just a few feet from the corner of Obispo Avenue at East 65th Street.
Three days after Lacy’s death, city officials and local clergy members gathered with family and other residents for a vigil and to speak out against violence in the community.
“It’s not just black kids—it's Mexican kids, white kids, everybody's kids,” said Lacy’s great-grandmother Dale Clinton. “When a kid dies—because I had a son die—when you lose a child… if it wasn't for God you'd lose your soul. It’s hard to lose a child. It's hard. When I pass by here my tears just flow automatically because I saw my great grandchild laying right here and it almost killed me,” Clinton said.
Long Beach Councilman Al Austin speaks during the vigil for Geron Lacy.
“My heart goes out to the family,” said Councilman Al Austin before a group of about 30. “As a parent here in Long Beach—as a parent of young boys—this hits home because my kids play in parks and I want my kids to be able to play safely. I want your kids to be able to play safely.”
Austin urged those present to be part of the solution by playing an active role in the community including paying attention when the time comes to budget for public safety and intervention programs in the city.
“I don't think they [young men of color] come to this park because they want to die,” said Councilman Rex Richardson. “They want to come to our city for opportunity. They want to come to our parks for opportunity.”
Lacy’s uncle Antonio Gilbreath urged anyone with information to come forward and become involved with the community to prevent another death.
“I never thought I would be standing here in a makeshift memorial talking about my nephew, saying if you’ve seen something speak up,” Gilbreath said. “I never thought I would be here, but I'm here today. So let's not be here for your children, making makeshift memorials, I need people to get involved.”
Local Pastor Gregory Sanders—who helped organize a recent vigil for a 19-year-old fatally shot in Long Beach on April 18—called on the community to make better choices and to love each other more.
“This is a great opportunity for us to galvanize our community and literally say enough is enough, we are absolutely done,” Sanders said. “We’re not leaving here and just do nothing, we’re leaving here as a call to action and we’re saying we’re done.”
Pastor Michael Eagle of Grant African Methodist Episcopal Church invited everyone to a meeting at the church, located at 1129 Alamitos Avenue, this Friday, May 13 at 6:30PM to discuss solutions.
“For nine years, nine long years, I’ve been coming to candlelight vigils—it’s almost like a prison term,” Eagle said. “If you’re tired of it come out, come up with a solution, come with your ideas, no matter how silly.”
A funeral is scheduled for Saturday, May 14 at Saint Mark Baptist Church, located at 1703 Lemon Avenue in Long Beach. A time was not given.