KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Family of Jamarion Gillette, the fourth student who went to Austin-East Magnet High School who has died from gun violence since the start of the year, are speaking out.
That is devastating for those who loved him.
“Just a nightmare.”
“It just seems so unreal, a nightmare is the best I can describe it for my family. Just a nightmare,” said Marshia Gillette.
Jamarion’s family members are reeling, and unable to wrap their minds around the fact he’s now gone.
“I’m going to miss my brother. It really feels like it’s not even real right now honestly,” said Jatora Gillette, his sister.
According to family, the teenager was shot and killed overnight, though they say they don’t know much more than that right now.
“All I know is that my cousin had to see her child on a cold table and we don’t know anything,” Marshia said.
Jamarion is the fourth teen killed in 2021 who went to Austin East High School, but Knox County Schools officials say his last day of attendance on record was in September 2020.
We asked family why he was not in school.
“That’s personal and I’m really not ready to say anything about that. It was personal,” said Erika Gillette.
Those who knew Jamarion best are remembering him for what he loved to do.
“His talent was rapping through music,” Marshia said.
And they are calling for an end to the violence that claimed his life.
“These are babies, they’re not even making it to their prom and graduations. It’s got to stop. I just want the violence to end and the hurt we keep feeling,” said Marshia.
Family and friends gathered for a candlelight vigil to remember and honor Jamarion.
His cousin and community advocate, David Gillette, said now is the time to come together.
“It’s time to tear down the walls and build up bridges.”
David also said, “At this time, I’m calling on all of our pastors, I’m calling on all our city officials, I’m calling on our leaders of the community, along with the community itself to let’s start working together.”
He is also outlining specifics of what he’d like to see moving forward – stepping stones to the overall goal of ending gun violence.
“I’m wanting to implement a community intervention prevention violence program. That program has several core areas in it that involve the police, involve the city officials, involve mental health, along with the community and other people involved,” David said. “I want to see more minority police officers in the community, people from the community.”
As family members and Knoxville police search for answers in the most recent shooting, David is hoping this message resonates.
“A lot of people are scared to speak out about violence. My message to the community: things get resolved when you get involved,” he said.