• Sumner remembers students lost to gun violence


    Sumner Vigil: Sumner High School students released balloons last Friday after holding a Peace Summit. The program was held to remember Sumner students who had died because of gun violence. Photo by Wiley Price / St. Louis American

    Posted: Monday, April 7, 2014 8:24 am | Updated: 9:49 am, Wed Apr 9, 2014.

    By Bridjes O'Neil Of The St. Louis American

    Terry Burgess and Deadra Runds were among family, friends, students, and teachers who attended a peace summit and ceremonial balloon release Friday at Sumner High School. They gathered to honor the lives of four Sumner students: Pierre Childs, James Moore, Chauncey Brown, and Beion Womack whose lives were cut violently short within the past year.

    Burgess is the grandmother of Pierre, 16, who was shot and killed in May 2013. And Runds is the mother of Chauncey Brown, 16, who was shot and killed four months later.

    “It’s no reason why these children should be gone,” Runds said. “You do not want your mom standing here talking about you.”

    Runds spoke of how much Chauncey loved school and being in the school’s ROTC program. She said friends are supposed to look out for each other.

    “If you see someone doing something with a gun,” Runds said, “you walk away. I don’t care if you think that’s not cool, walk away!”

    Kelcee Burton and Callan Turner, both seniors at Sumner, helped organize the peace summit with other Student Government members. Callan challenged her peers, teachers, and community to stand as one against the cycle of violence, and be change agents for peace and love, rather than violence and hatred.

    The peace summit was an extension of student forum held in December on ways to stop gang violence. Sgt. David E. Glenn Sr., commander of training and special projects with the SLPS’ Safety and Security Department, shared how his department ensures keeps the “gang culture” out of schools so that children can learn in safe environments. Glenn asked how many of those in the audience personally knew someone who had been shot. Nearly every hand inside the auditorium went up.

    “That’s pretty devastating,” Glenn said.