SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Mary Nelson is best known around Syracuse for her summer backpack give-a-way, but what inspired her to begin serving her community was when she lost her nephew to a shooting.
Her nephew was shot in 2002 and died one year later from complications.
Then in 2014, Nelson’s life was again impacted by gun violence in Syracuse. Her brother was shot and killed.
Those were the people Nelson thought of when she went to the vigil for 11-month-old Dior Harris, who was killed Sunday when the car she was riding in was the target of a shooting.
Nelson says, “To find out the young man who did it had a baby. Just had a baby. What were you thinking? How can you go home and sleep? How can you be around you baby you found out a baby life was gone?”
Chavez Ocasio, 23, was arrested and charged with murder. Police are still working to figure out if Ocasio pulled the trigger in addition to owning the car that was used in the crime.
Nelson doesn’t know what can fix her city, but hopes people stop blaming the mayor and police chief and start taking responsibility for their own children.
“On my Mondays when I’m off,” she says, “I see kids walking the streets, and I know they should be school. Why is that? We are so busy worry about someone else’s household? We can’t take care of our own.”
She thinks the first steps to solving a complex problem might be that simple.