Newport News woman reflects back on nephew's death as lawmakers introduce 2 bills addressing gun violence

Posted at 5:03 PM, Apr 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-09 15:28:00-04

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — Gun violence continues to have a devastating impact on families throughout Hampton Roads.

The pain of burying a loved one is still fresh for one woman in Newport News. She lost her nephew to gun violence back in 2020, and now she said she needs to see change.

News 3 caught up with Del. Marcia Price (D-Newport News), who is trying to make change by introducing two bills addressing the issue of gun violence.

"This is an investment in saving actual lives, and we have to move forward with it," Del. Price, who represents District 95, said.

Lateashu Jones knows what it's like to mourn a loss of a loved one to gun violence.

"We can't change it all. All we can do is try to live with the pain daily," said Jones, who lost her nephew to gun violence.

Remembering the loss of Jones' nephew is not an easy conversation. Twenty-three-year-old Jayquan Fenner was shot and killed in Hampton two years ago.

"It is a horrible feeling - a horrible thing to live with, it really is. To take someone's life who didn't deserve it," said Jones.

Jones said her nephew was a bright light who had a good head on his shoulders and stayed out of trouble.

"He just grew up to be this wonderful young man, and I just said, 'Lord, have mercy,' when it happened. I was just like, 'Lord,'" said Jones.

Two years later, Jones said she has a empty hole in her heart.

"It's like a heart murmur that will never close," said Jones.

With many letters and phone calls Del. Price has received from people who have lost loved ones from gun-related injuries, her hope is to create a Firearm Violence Prevention Center.

"The bill that we're working on really looks at prevention, intervention, enforcement and re-entry - all needing to be funded," Del. Price said. "And so, what the gun violence prevention center will do is be heavy on that prevention side so we won't have to get to enforcement."

It does come at a cost - an estimate of $27 million. However, lawmakers said this is needed for long-term sustainable change.

"Of the $27 million, some of it will be to establish this center as a central location for a statewide gun violence prevention strategy," said Price.

That includes data, research and funding for organizations working to prevent gun violence in their localities. Price is working alongside Sen. Jennifer McClellan on these two bills.

"We have to make the community better. It can't go the same way, and I'm glad that they're stepping up and stepping in to help resolve some of these issues," said Jones.

The two bills addressing gun violence are under negotiation in a conference committee; they have a long way to go before a full vote. But Del. Price tells News 3 she does feel confident they will eventually be passed.

Related: Firearms instructor, member of Hampton Roads Black Caucus says education is key to reducing gun violence