Jacqui Fomond talked to me yesterday about losing her partner of 10 years, Ray Owens, the father of her three children, to gun violence in Evanston.
She spoke to me to encourage people to participate in the Evanston Police Department's gun-buyback event--$100/gun--that will take place this Saturday, June 9, from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Pastor Kenneth Cherry Sr.'s Christ Temple Church, 1711 Simpson.
Evanston residents, Skokie residents, and Chicago residents north of Devon are eligible to participate.
Jacqui, thank you for being willing to share your story with us.
Ray Owens was shot and killed at 3 p.m. in the afternoon on June 8, 2015, while he sat in his car waiting for his oldest son Ray to come home from school--his first time taking the school bus.
"It was a world changer. It's not easy. There's not a day that goes by that I don't think about him," says Jacqui. "There's nothing that my kids can do in life that I don't think their father will never be here to see this. And it hurts."
Ray was 28 when he was murdered. Jacqui was 29.
"I had to readjust and learn how to live life the best I could without him."
Jacqui, her three children and her mom now live together in an apartment. Ray has three other children who live with their mother.
"I hope for my kids to not let this situation hinder them. I hope they go on and possibly change the world," Jacqui says. "I honestly believe my kids could change the world. I hope that they go on to be whatever they want to be in life."
Ray's own father was shot and killed in Chicago when Ray was a child and Jacqui’s dad is absent from her life.
Jacqui chose her children's names: Ray, Raylyn, and Raygan. "I loved that man. I loved him," she explains.
"When we talked about having kids, we wanted different for our children. We wanted our children to know both of their parents. He wanted to be that dad. But it didn't happen. It couldn't happen," she says.
"What hurts me the most is that it happened in Evanston. I spent 29 years of my life in this area where it happened. So to know him is to know me. And to know that somebody I know would do that bothers me. And it hurts. It hurts daily."
Jacqui acknowledges that Ray wasn't perfect. He had served time in jail for marijuana-related convictions, but he was working to turn his life around.
"He could be a flashy type person. By far he wasn't a perfect person, but show me someone who is," she says.
"There's nothing that can't be solved without talking to somebody. Shooting somebody doesn't solve anybody. It leaves families hurt, it leaves communities hurt."
PLEASE: turn in your guns. Stop the violence.
-- First come, first served
-- Bring ID to show you're from Evanston, Skokie, or Chicago north of Devon
-- Guns must be unloaded, complete, and operational
-- Bring guns in a box or a bag, or in the trunk of a vehicle