KENS 5 journalist Dillon Collier has dug into the east side's history and challenges as an investigative reporter.
SAN ANTONIO –- A rash of fatal shootings in east San Antonio in recent months has caused an unwanted spike in business at Carter Taylor Williams Mortuary.
“When I do some of these funerals, at the end of the funeral, once I leave the cemetery, I almost feel drained, because you’ve exhausted your energy mentally,” owner Vera Williams-Young said during a recent interview, describing the mental strain that comes with burying a young person.
During the first three months of 2016, there were 14 murders on the city’s east side. East San Antonio also had 45 aggravated assaults with a deadly weapon during the same time period, another sign of increased gun violence.
Williams-Young says her side of town has resembled a war zone, and she knows what it will take to stop it:
“The solution has to come from within the person.”
On March 7, five men were shot, two fatally, while sitting inside a car in the 500 block of Larry Street.
Rolanda Bradford, the mother of victim Ishmael Haywood, reflected on his death a month after the ambush shooting.
“I carried him for nine months. He was there for 20 years. How am I supposed to just move on? You can’t. You can’t move on,” said Bradford, who added her other children have given her the will to keep working.
Despite reports claiming Haywood was killed in a gang shootout, his mother said a charity paid for his funeral, something it could not have done had Haywood been a known gang member.
Bradford said her son carried a gun in the months before his death.
“He felt like his life was in danger. He told me he couldn’t trust anyone,” she said.
Nearly three months after Demontray Mackey and Haywood were killed, their murders remain unsolved.
A third victim of the shooting, Gino Reece, survived his injuries and was taken into custody on unrelated warrants after being released from the hospital.
Despite being Haywood’s best friend, Reece has refused to provide police information about the shooting, Bradford said.
SHOT PLAYING IN HER YARD
Hours before the Larry Street shooting, less than two miles away, a 17-year-old was shot in her front yard in the 500 block of Meerscheidt while playing soccer with her 2-year-old cousin.
“I felt something hit me in my arm, like sting me, and then I started feeling like hot," Jocelyn Mejia said. "I decided to look at it and I just saw it hanging."
A bullet had shattered a bone in her left arm, and she also had been hit in the stomach.
Mejia may never regain full movement on her arm, which now is held in place by a large plate and six screws.
She said her surgery at San Antonio Military Medical Center was delayed so surgeons could operate on one of the Larry Street shooting victims.
Mejia told us she remembers seeing a grey car drive by her as she was being hit, but nobody has been arrested in the case.
It's just one of many crimes on the east side that remains unsolved, and that knowledge has affected Mejia and her family.
“My mom doesn’t let me come outside because she thinks something is going to happen again."