Two mothers who lost their sons to gun violence spoke out Friday about their losses, and about their hopes for a rally Saturday aimed at reducing homicides and the use of guns.
Flossie Lee, who now lives in Little Rock, is the mother of Keith Norfleet, who was 21 years old when he was shot to death on March 30, 1997, at the corner of University Avenue and Pullen Street. A second man, Arthur Shaw, 68, also was killed in that incident.
Georgia Culclager, who now lives in Texas, is the mother of Billy Culclager Jr., who was 24 when he was shot and killed on Feb. 2, 2009. Another son, Junius Culclager, then 23, also was shot in the incident in the 1500 block of West 31st Avenue and is paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair.
Lee and Culclager are among the organizers of the rally, and talked about it Friday at the Interested Citizens for Voter Registration office.
“When a tragedy happens, it affects all of us,” Lee said. “This is not just about one person, one victim, one family.”
The rally is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Saracen Landing, and admission is free.
“It’s an opportunity for all of us to come together and cry on each other’s shoulders,” Lee said. “It’s not easy and it takes time but the wounds will heal.”
The person accused of shooting Norfleet and Shaw, Sandra Moore, then 35, was found not guilty by reason of mental defect or disease and sent to the state hospital. According to Lee, Moore apparently has been released, although she and her family have not been officially notified.
“It’s been four years for me and I’ve had the opportunity to reach out to other individuals and let them know what to expect out of the process and out of the courts,” Culclager said. “It’s opened my eyes to a lot of things.”
Georgia Culclager said she is “still healing,” a process she said is made more difficult by the fact that her son Junius remains in a wheelchair.
“Seeing him every day is a constant reminder of that day,” Culclager said.
It also doesn’t help that many of the city’s recent homicide victims of homicides were friends of her sons.
“Every time I hear someone else has been murdered, it’s like, here we go again,” she said.
Culclager said the planned rally is a way to “keep our loved ones spirits alive.”
Ricardo Marlet Jones, then 30, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of Billy Culclager, attempted second-degree murder in the shooting of Junius Culclager, and to being a felon in possession of a firearm because of a prior conviction. He was sentenced to a total of 26 years in prison.
The Rev. Jesse Turner, executive director of Interested Citizens for Voter Registration, whose organization is helping sponsor the rally, said “homicides not only hurt loved ones but they hurt the image of the city.
“Our homicide rate is seven times the national average and we’re saying it’s time to put down the guns and solve problems a different way,” Turner said.