Seattle Times: Parents of slain 12-year-old Alajawan Brown find outlet for their grief
From our news partners at The Seattle Times: Alajawan Brown, 12, was fatally shot in the back by a gang member in 2010. Now Alajawan's parents want to help other children in Skyway, where gangs and poverty are a constant presence. By Sara Jean Green.
On the days her home is unbearably quiet, Ayanna Brown busies herself running "useless errands." When she doesn't have money for gas, she just sits in her car outside her Skyway apartment, often waiting for hours for her husband to return from work so she doesn't have to be alone with the silence.
It's been two years and three months since Brown's youngest child, Alajawan, was gunned down, shot in the back by a gang member as he stepped off a Metro bus with a brand new pair of football cleats he'd bought with his own money.
Alajawan's parents and older siblings attended every day of his killer's three-week trial in January, and they were in court in February when a jury found Curtis Walker guilty of first-degree murder. The family was back in King County Superior Court in March when Walker, now 37, was sentenced to 50 years in prison. A member of the Blood Pirus gang, Walker mistakenly thought Alajawan was a member of the rival Crips gang involved in a nearby shootout minutes before the 12-year-old was shot.
Once the criminal case was over, Ayanna Brown and her husband, Louis, were confronted with the same question so many victims of violence face once justice has seemingly been served: Now what?
The couple has established the Alajawan Brown Foundation, also known as Alajawan's Hands. The charity's board is made up of the Browns, Alajawan's godmother, a local pastor and his wife, and a Seattle attorney who reached out to the family. They hope one day to open a community center and offer mentoring programs, but those are lofty, future goals. In the short term, they want to raise funds to help send kids to camp or pay for their registration fees to participate in sports and other activities.
As a first step in nonprofit giving, the Browns are looking to collect 1,000 backpacks and enough school supplies to make sure each child-recipient has at least the basics — pencils, erasers, notebooks — when they start school this fall. On July 8, what would've been Alajawan's 15th birthday, the couple hosted a party and received some of their first donations: 25 backpacks and a couple boxes of supplies. With two upcoming collection drives at the Walmart in Renton, they remain hopeful they can meet their target.