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After Her 15-Year-Old Son Is Killed, One Mom Asks, How Do I Live?

Sirena Harrell
Isaiah Solomon was killed while attending his cousin's wake August 2016. He was 15.

WLRN is looking at the impact of children and teens killed by guns in South Florida through the voices of some of the people who are most affected.

You can find the entire series at wlrn.org/ownwords

Over the past year, three different wakes in Miami-Dade County were shot at — leaving a total of four people dead.

Isaiah Solomon was the youngest victim. He was 15 years old when he was killed while attending his 19-year old cousin Devonair “Deb” Blake’s wake. Someone opened fire on the mourners from a car in Miami-Dade’s West Little River neighborhood.

WLRN's Nadege Green spoke to Isaiah's mother, Sirena Harrell, as part of an ongoing series that highlights the voices of parents and family members in South Florida who have lost children and teens to gun violence. Below is an edited excerpt of their conversation: 

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Isaiah was in his room laying on the bed and he said to me,  "Mom I think Deb has been murdered."

And I was like, "Well what makes you think that?

"I was calling his name and I was like, Isaiah, Isaiah, like, we got to go home"

He said,  "I keep scrolling on Facebook and see people saying Rest In Peace Deb."

They were cousins through his father's side. When I heard him weeping I went back to the room and I just grabbed him and I hugged him and I said, "Do you want me to take you down to the scene to see your family?"  And he was like, "Yes."

I remember saying to someone on the scene, "I would hate to receive that kind of call. I never want to know what it is to lose my son." Unbeknownst to me, he’d be murdered a week later.

Credit Nadege Green / WLRN
Sirena Harrell speaks about her son's killing at a press conference for Miami Dade Parents of Murdered Kids.

His cousin’s mom lives like two minutes away from me exactly. Ruby was going to take him to the wake. So I was like, "I love you." And he said, "I love you too."  

He got in the car with Ruby and that was the last time I saw my baby alive.  

That night I was in bed and I got up and I grabbed my phone. When I grabbed my phone I had over 20 missed calls. I picked up the phone and called Ruby. And I say, "Hey Ruby is everything OK?" And she told me that Isaiah was shot.

I just remember running out the house.  When I got to the crime scene this young lady said,  "Ma'am, can I talk to you?" And she said, "Your baby is around the corner. He's laying down on the sidewalk."

"The hardest thing to do is live without him. How do I live?"

I was calling his name and I was like, "Isaiah, Isaiah, like, we got to go home."

My son was only down there to attend the wake. If I had any inclination that would be his last day on this earth I wouldn't have sent my baby down there. It happened two months and four days before his 16th birthday.

I think about how he would have been 17 this year and wonder how tall he would have grown, or how deep his voice would have gotten.

Someone has to know something, you know. Even if people were running, someone has to know something.

He was just a child. He was a teenager.

The hardest thing to do is live without him. How do I live? 

I feel like I'm just a walking corpse, like I'm just dead. And people think that I'm OK because I vocalize how I feel or I find the strength to push for him and keep his name going because let's be serious — we all know that when black boys get murdered, it's the norm.

So I have to push a lot harder for him, but then it's like, I'm empty. I'm empty.