LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – It’s a walk no parent wants to make, but for Lawanna McDowell Allen and her sister, Lakesia Wilbon-Aycock, it’s a walk they take all too often.
“Rather than having a dinner for a birthday celebration, this is our celebration,” Lawanna said as she stood next to the gravesite of her son, Rayvon.
According to Little Rock police records, Rayvon McDowell is homicide number 16, but to his family he’s much more than a statistic.
“Rayvon was like my little best friend since he was a little boy,” Lakesia said. “If there’s anything bothering him from when he was little all the way up until an adult man, he would call me, and we would talk for hours.”
Rayvon’s death is a feeling of déjà vu for the sisters. In March of 2021, someone murdered their brother in Little Rock while the family was on vacation. To grieve that anniversary, they decided to go on another family trip this past March.
At the last minute, Rayvon had to work and couldn’t make the trip. When they were headed home on March 27, Lawanna got the call no mother ever wants to get. Her oldest son, Rayvon, was gunned down while in his truck in Little Rock.
“My heart can’t accept it, but I know it’s real because I’m standing here, but my heart will never accept it,” Lawanna said.
Reality hits often and unannounced.
“It hits at any second, any moment, any hour,” Lakesia said.
Rayvon was not only a son, brother, and nephew. He was also a father to a now five-year-old little girl.
“The questions she [Rayvon’s daughter] asked is, ‘My dad is strong. I wish he could dig up out of the grave,’” Lawanna said.
A child losing their father is something a young mind can’t always comprehend.
“This is how she has to take her pictures with her dad,” Lawanna said as he held a picture of Rayvon’s daughter posing next to her father’s tombstone. “It’s not a good sight. It don’t feel good.”
This year is Little Rock’s deadliest year on record. As of mid-November, 75 people have been killed. That’s 75 people no longer living, 75 families dealing with the loss of a loved one, 75 empty chairs at dinner tables.
That is also 75 families that are creating a new normal, like the Hall family. Every Thursday they have a family dinner with one empty seat at the table.
“We’ll never be the same,” Lydia Hall said.
On July 1, Lydia got the same call as Lakesia, except hers was in the form of a knock on the door.
“About 1 in the morning and told me that Isaiah had been hurt and they were going to give me a ride to the hospital,” Lydia said.
Someone shot Lydia’s son, Isaiah Hall, in a Walmart parking lot. She and her family were also planning a family vacation, but at the last minute decided to leave on Saturday morning instead of Friday night. That night her world changed forever.
“While we were riding to the hospital, Isaiah’s father called me and he told me that Isaiah was already gone,” Lydia recalled. “He just felt like I should know sooner than later and not get to the hospital with some false hope that I’d be able to see my son.”
Isaiah was the 43rd person killed in Little Rock in 2022.
He recently graduated from high school. He was a son, a brother, a boyfriend and a protector.
“He had a heart of gold. He was protective, but he was also sensitive,” Lydia said.
MESSAGE TO VIOLENT CRIMINALS
According to Little Rock Police statistics, violent crimes are down, but homicides are up. They’re the highest the city has ever seen.
Lakesia has a warning to people who are committing these crimes.
“Think about your family because either a, you’re going to end up on one of two sides, either where we’re standing at or in a penitentiary for life,” Lakesia said.
She thinks it will take several things to reduce crime.
“Putting the resources back in the community, catching these kids while they’re young, and I also believe it goes all the way up to the judicial piece,” Lakesia said. “Prosecutors, we need you all to prosecute. We need you all to put these people away.”
Lydia feels like the violence ultimately comes down to people not valuing human life.
“We’re all created with intrinsic value. We’re important, each one, and I feel like somehow, we’ve lost that,” Lydia said. “You’re taking someone’s life. You can never take that back and you’re most likely ruining your life.”
“It’s not just that person you’re taking. It has such a ripple effect. The family and the friends will never be the same,” Lydia said.
Rayvon McDowell’s family is offering a $5,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest and conviction in their son’s case. You can contact the family at 501-404-8689 or report an anonymous tip to Little Rock Police Department at 501-371-4636.
NAMES BEHIND THE NUMBERS
Little Rock’s first homicide of 2022 happened on January 3. The victim in that case was D’Mahre Dillard, 20. He was killed in a shooting that happened on South Ringo Street.
The second homicide of the year claimed the life of Jadon Shackelford, 21, on January 8. His body was found at Meriweather Park near University and Cantrell Road.
Braxton Hale, 28, was killed on January 14. Police found him shot on Par Drive near the Eagle Hill golf course. First responders rushed him to the hospital where he later died.
Jimmie Johnson, 44, and Andre Luckey, 38, died in what police call a double homicide. It happened on January 21 when a shooting broke out in front of the La Changes nightclub on Roosevelt Road.
The city’s sixth homicide victim was Bradford Bankston, 20. He was killed in a shooting on University Avenue near the Interstate 630 overpass.
Lawrence Parker, 50, is the city’s seventh homicide victim of 2022. Police found him lying in the front yard of a home on South Harrison Street suffering from a stab wound.
Paul Oliver, 55, was killed on February 9 after his daughter filed a missing report on her father. Police found him unresponsive on the living room floor. His death was later ruled a homicide.
Jose Bustos, 21, was killed in a shooting at a car wash on Mabelvale Pike on February 11.
Rickey Braggs, 37, died after being shot on East 7th Street. Two other people were also injured in that shooting, which happened on February 11.
A double homicide on February 26 claimed the lives of Eric Rounds, 38, and Martina Edmondson, 36. They were found dead in a house on Scotty Court.
Benito Guzman-Martinez, 23, died from a stabbing on March 8 on Overby Circle.
Brayshawn Threets, 18, was killed in a shooting that happened on West 65th Street on March 12.
The 15th homicide victim of the year was Charles Willis. He worked at Pizza D’Action and was shot while at work on March 26.
Rayvon McDowell was killed on March 27. He was found slumped over the steering wheel of a pick-up truck on Patterson Road after being shot.
Donnie Hood, 34, was shot and killed at an apartment complex near Cantrell and Mississippi on April 3.
Brittany Cottrell was the victim of the city’s 18th homicide. Police found her dead at an apartment on Terra Vista Circle.
Dolan Goff, 26, was shot in a Dodge Ram on April 7. His homicide was the 19th one of 2022.
Joanna Bell, 21, was killed on Easter Sunday in a shooting near Baseline and Geyer Springs Road.
The 21st homicide of the year took the life of Keisha Utsey, 49. She was killed in a shooting on Alicia Court on April 20.
An argument over tools claimed the life of Terrance Calloway, 22 on April 22.
Harry Jackson, 50, died from a gunshot wound in the city’s 23rd homicide of the year.
Kerry Allen, 38, is the victim of the 24th homicide of the year, which happened on Walker Street.
Ray Alexander, 83, died in the city’s 25th homicide.
Frankie Cain, 34, was killed in the city’s 26th homicide of the year, which happened on April 23.
Raymond Moore, 39, died in a shooting on East 28th Street.
Nicholas Hampton, 39, was found with a stab wound in the doorway of a home on South Schiller Street. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
The city’s 29th homicide victim was Setric Millner, 44. He was killed on April 30.
Julio Ramos, 32, died in a shooting on Scott Hamilton Drive on May 2.
James Wiggins, 23, was killed in a shooting on May 4 on Greenway Drive. He was the city’s 31st homicide victim.
Randel Corum, 72, was shot at a gas station on Broadway on May 17. Police said he was “not involved” in the shooting that led to his death.
Wayeland Battles, 30, was found dead after police responded to a “shots fired” call at the Big Country Chateau Apartment Complex on May 21. He was the victim in the city’s 33rd homicide of the year.
Kyisha Price, 13, is one of the city’s youngest homicide victims. While she died in May, Little Rock Police did not rule her death as a homicide until September. That’s when her mother was arrested for second-degree murder after the teen died while experiencing difficulty breathing.
Chole Alexander, 7, was shot and killed while her family was in Little Rock heading to the zoo and to get her nails done.
Antonio Hampton, 25, was killed on Memorial Day on Gila Valley Drive. He was the city’s 36th homicide victim.
Larry Rodgers, 47, was found shot at the entrance of a gas station on South University Avenue.
Darrell Profit, 32, was found lying near the intersection of 15th Street and Hanger Hill on June 5. He later died from his injuries.
A pregnant woman’s unborn twins were killed when she was shot on Labette Manor Drive on June 9. The unborn babies’ were Little Rock’s 39th and 40th homicides of the year.
Joseph Britton, 52, died in a shooting on West 24th Street. Police found him after an employee learned he did not show up for work.
Isaiah Smith, 19, was shot and killed on South Jefferson Street. He was also a suspect in the city’s 39th and 40th homicides that left unborn twins dead.
Isaiah Hall, 18, was killed after a fight broke out in the Walmart parking lot on Cantrell Road. He was the city’s 43rd homicide victim.
Titus Moton, 24, was shot and killed at the Big Country Chateau Apartments on Colonel Glenn Road on July 4.
Daniel Duguid was shot and killed on July 11 at Northwick Court. LRPD said his case remains unsolved.
Deandre Jones, 25, and Javyn Luckey, 18, died after being shot at the Beacon Hill Apartments on July 19th. They are the city’s 46th and 47th homicides of the year.
Amos Coleman, 18, was the victim of the city’s 48th homicide of the year. He was found shot on Boulevard Avenue on July 25.
Daniel Felton, 65, was found lying in the driveway of a home by his wife after suffering from gunshot wounds. He was pronounced dead later on August 1.
Cathy Smith, 71, died as a result of domestic violence, according to police.
Glean Finley, 23, was killed on August 13 on South Rodney Parham.
Brandon Mackintrush, 20, died after being shot at a Valero on Mabelvale Cutoff on August 14.
Aukemian Spencer, 18, was found with a gunshot wound while in the driver’s seat of an SUV. Spencer was the city’s 53rd homicide.
Deborah Wright, 63, and her husband Lawrence Wright, 69, were killed on September 10 in a double homicide.
Calvin Watson, 20, died after being shot in his car. Police were notified about the shooting after his vehicle hit a home on Dahlia Drive on September 14.
The death of Teresa Jones, 19, was originally thought to be a suicide before police confirmed it was a homicide. She was found dead in a home on Center Street.
Randy Turner, 27, died after being stabbed at a Taco Bell on John Barrow Road. He was the city’s 58th homicide of the year.
Ernesto Olmos, 30, died after police said he got into a fight with another person at a gas station on Baseline Road.
Deldrick Thomas, 53, was found shot dead in the street near West 65th Street. He was the city’s 60th homicide.
Alex Stewart, 40, died a on Colonel Glenn near South University on October 2. His homicide was the 61st of the year.
Candice Godbold, 37, died in September after police responded to a call about a disturbance with a weapon on East Roosevelt Road. However, police did not rule her death a homicide until October.
Raniyah Basir, 1, died on October 4 after being shot at her home on Doe Run Drive.
A 19-year-old was the city’s 64th homicide victim. The person died after a shooting on West 4th Street.
Barry Campbell, 34, died after a shooting on 12th Street. His death was the 65th homicide of the year, which tied the 2021 record.
Larry Foster, 61, was killed after he encountered a stranger while traveling on the I-30 service road on October 17.
Broderick Bluford, 32, died after being shot on Leander Drive on October 18.
John Luther, 33, was shot and killed on South Bryant Street on October 20. Police were asking the public for help in solving his homicide, which was the city’s 68th of the year.
Victor Lopez, 19, was shot and killed at a home on West 18th street.
David Royal, 34, died at a home on York Drive on October 30. His death marked the 70th homicide of the year, which tied the city’s record set back in 1993.
A 23-year-old man was killed on Legion Hut Road, making 2022 Little Rock’s deadliest year on record.
Lee Jordan, 25, was killed in a shooting on Grand Avenue on November 8. This marked the city’s 74th homicide.