Here are 4 interviews I conducted for Vice with female survivors of others who have been killed by guncrime in London.
Girlfriend of Daniel Ross who was fatally shot in the head at the age of 22 in The Scala nightclub, Kings Cross, London in September 2006.
Vice: How did the news of Daniel’s shooting reach you?
Aleisha: I was asleep at home and one of Daniels friends who had been with him at the club called me from his mobile and told me what had happened. I went straight to the hospital. They allowed me in after about 10 minutes to help identify him. I then waited in the hospital with Daniels mum and dad for about 24 hours by his bedside until he was pronounced.
How did you feel when you received the call?
It was about 2 in the morning and I was in total shock. My heart felt like it had shrunk. I was just shouting at the boys over and over again to stop lying. When I got to the hospital I knew it was for real.
What reminds you of Daniel?
Being here in this house where he lived with me and his two kids. I could never forget him for a minute, I was seeing him for almost 6 years and his eldest looks like the image of him. He was just a smiley, loving person. He wasn’t one to argue and his main priority was his family. Now that is my responsibility, looking after the daily runnings and bringing up the kids.
What would you say to kids who continue to carry guns on the street?
Put the guns dem down. It is unnecessary and just not a natural thing. You have to wake up and see the bigger picture. You are not just shooting that person or that problem. You have to look at the family, the sons and the daughters. Think about the damage before you pull the trigger.
Girlfriend of Arian Arthur fatally shot at the age of 22 in the Jam nightclub, Shoreditch, East London in November 2006.
Vice: How did you receive the news of Arian’s shooting?
Shirin: We had been seeing each other on and off for about three and a half years, since I was 19, but it was complicated at that time. The shooting happened on a Saturday night, I was calling him all Sunday and there was no answer so I knew something weren’t right. I decided to go over to his block in Clapham and all his mates was outside. I knew before I got there something was wrong but when I got there I was not ready for what they told me.
How did you react when they told you what had happened?
I was shocked, I could not move, it felt unreal. I was with my friend and I had to get away from there straight away, I couldn’t handle it. I got back in my car with my friend but I couldn’t even drive, we just sat in the car.
How does being here remind you of Arian?
This is his yard, where he lived, where we would hang out together. I first met him in the street here in Clapham and this is just where we would hang out. Whenever I think about him now I feel all my feelings just get mixed up all together.
What is your message to those that continue to perpetrate this kind of violence?
It is just the wrong way to go about. It does not solve anything. It just causes more problems. It affects families and friends and they do not think of the loved ones. Once someone is gone you can never bring them back.
High Wood, Colchester
Sister of Westley Odger who was stabbed to death at 27 in a shopping centre in Colchester, Essex in September 2005.
Vice: Can you remember where you were when you heard the news about Westley?
Rachael: I was at home with my little daughter, I live two doors down from my mum and she knocked. As soon as I opened the door to her I knew something was wrong. She told me what had happened and what the police had told her on the phone and I just felt shocked and numb, like I could not move. With all the comings and goings it is difficult to remember how it felt. It just didn’t feel real.
What happened after you had heard the news?
We all got in the car, all my family, and we went to the hospital. We saw the Police liaison officer who explained what had happened but by the time we reached the Hospital Westley had already been pronounced dead.
What did you feel towards the people that had done this to your brother?
Hate. Just hatred.
Have your feelings changed over time?
I still feel so angry. These people just don’t think about the devastation that they cause.
How does this particular place remind you of Westley?
It is the park behind where he lived. We are a close family, we all lived around here, we would socialize together particularly on Christmas and birthdays. It reminds me of being young and outdoors and happy as well. We used to go to the leisure centre around the corner all the time and swim and do bowling. I don’t have one single memory of him though. It changes all the time.
Best friend of Charity Josiene who was shot on her way home from a party in Mottingham, East London at the age of 15 in March 2004 . Her killer is still yet to be apprehended.
Could you tell us what happened on the day of the incident?
We went to a party in a youth hall because wanted to go and see what it was like. As we were walking home through the woods it was all dark and I heard a gunshot, really loud and Charity just dropped to the floor. I saw a person with a balaclava running off and I just dropped down and felt her neck to feel her heartbeat. I could feel it getting slower and slower and she just died right there in my arms.
What was going through your mind at the time?
I was so confused and scared, I just did not know what to do, my best friend was dying right there in front of me and there was nothing I could do. I felt that I was just going to be by myself, no one else. I still think about her every day and when I do I get in a fat mood and get depressed and don’t want to talk to no-one.
How do you remember Charity?
She was really bubbly and outgoing, if she had something to say she would say it. You could always trust her. We used to listen to songs together and make up dances to go with the songs. That is what we used to do in this park, just hang out and dance and have fun. I have good memories of this place.
What would you say to the people that continue to carry guns and knives.
You aren’t big and you aren’t clever.