14-year-old shot in Racine may be paralyzed for life in apparent ‘mistaken identity’
RACINE — The family of Drekarion Williams says the 14-year-old was riding a scooter on Carlisle Avenue, going to his aunt’s house accompanied by a cousin on a bike, not long after midnight Sunday when an SUV pulled up and someone with a gun opened fire.
Drekarion’s cousin avoided the bullets. Drekarion is lucky to be alive.
No one is in custody. It’s still not clear what even led to the shooting.
“They were literally riding a bike and a scooter … mistaken for somebody else,” said Jessica Williams, the teen’s aunt.
The family thinks the shooting was a nearly fatal case of mistaken identity, that whoever shot at Drekarion and his cousin mistook them for other young men, perhaps some sort of gang feud.
Scott Williams, Drekarion’s father, said that an $8,000 reward is being offered to anyone who provides information leading to an arrest.
“He ain’t into that,” Scott said of his son’s aversion to street violence. “A good kid, never been to trouble.”
“He just wants to be a kid.”
In a Facebook post, Drekarion’s mom, Porshe Conner, wrote the same words that have become a refrain in Racine and worldwide amid ongoing gun violence: “Put the guns down.”
‘We’ve been down this road before’
Tales of senseless violence are all too commonplace in the experience of Racine Alderman Maurice Horton.
“I think the violence we are experiencing now is connected to a lot of other issues in the city, with former gang members being shot or some type of retaliation,” Horton said. “We’ve been down this road before.”
“We’ve had a couple shootings in the last 10 days,” Horton said, referencing the May 7 killing of 17-year-old Dontrell Bush and May 15 killing of Deveon D. Robbins. “This city has been a city of retaliation: ‘If something happens on my side of town then something is going to happen on your side of town.’ ”
At a vigil for Robbins held by the Racine Interfaith Coalition on Wednesday night, Linda Boyle, co-president of the organization, mentioned the shooting of Drekarion in a list of recent acts of gun violence.
“Every death, every shooting, hurts us all,” Tammy Hayward, RIC’s other co-president, said during the Robbins vigil. “So many people in the network of these lives are touched … everyone is weakened.”
‘I don’t know what people are doing nowadays’
Drekarion — known to friends and family as “Bob,” a nickname honoring one of his grandfathers — loves video games, being outside and sports, especially football.
Scott said that he and Conner only got to see a glimpse of their son at Ascension All Saints Hospital before Drekarion was whisked away, flown by Flight for Life to Children’s Hospital in Wauwatosa, where he is still recovering.
“I believe it was just mistaken identity, or — I don’t know, I don’t know what people are doing nowadays,” Scott said of what may have led to his son’s fight for life.
The day after he was shot, Drekarion was breathing on his own, but had already undergone at least one surgery that removed part of his intestines, according to the family. On Tuesday, his parents were told Drekarion, a football-loving kid, may be permanently paralyzed from the waist down. As of Tuesday, he couldn’t feel anything below his waist.
“That’s their opinion right now,” Scott said of the paralysis diagnosis. “I hope for a different outcome.”
Drekarion was struck by two bullets, Scott told a Milwaukee TV news station: one that went through his neck and another that penetrated his side and stomach.
The family is expecting a mountain of bills, not just medical costs but also to equip family members’ homes with ramps and other devices to make them wheelchair accessible.
A “Road to Recovery Fund” online fundraiser through GoFundMe.com to help Drekarion’s family has been set up. It can be donated to at gofund.me/a3493683, or Drekarion’s parents can be donated to directly through the phone application Cash App at $PorsheConner or $scotty121988.
“Anything will help us right now,” Scott said.
Ongoing cycle of violence
There are no simple solutions to breaking the cycle of violence. Horton called on community leaders, elected or otherwise, to “band together and invest in our youth.”
Horton recalled the spending cuts in 2011 under the then-Gov. Scott Walker that more than halved the funding for the gang diversion program he ran: the Gang Crime Diversion Task Force out of SAFE Haven, 1030 Washington Ave.
After the funding from the state fell from about $150,000 a year to about $64,000, Horton said “that isn’t enough” to continue the programs they had been running, programs that kept dozens of kids from running around the streets on their own after school.
“We never really recovered,” after the cuts following the Great Recession, Horton said.
He complimented the work that’s been done in the schools to teach what parents haven’t about dealing with others, not reacting to slights violently and etiquette. But, he said, “one program can’t take away everything that’s going on in this city.”
Horton mentioned that he had worked with David Luckett Jr., the 17-year-old charged with killing Robbins, in schools, trying to equip him and his peers with coping skills.
Horton was “shocked” when he learned about the allegations against Luckett.
For Horton, Luckett’s case is another example of the need for more extensive programs for youths available in neighborhoods, particularly those with high crime rates.
Good schools can’t undo the influences of a young person’s home neighborhood, Horton said: “You’ve got to follow these kids from the schools back into the community. It has to be a constant, everyday thing.”
“We have to get to the root of it.”
In photos and videos: Vigil honors life of slain 17-year-old Dontrell Bush as leaders, family pray for change
Sister and brother
Dontrell Bush’s mother, Tamyra Morgan, bows her head in grief
Watch Now: “But now, I’ve got to bury my baby on the 19th,” Dontrell Bush’s mom says at vigil for her slain son
Sister and brother
Lifting up Dontrell
Love from friends, family, strangers
Watch Now: Linda Boyle of Racine Interfaith Coalition begins vigil honoring life of Dontrell “Trell” Bush
Smiling while remembering
Tamyra Morgan bows her head for her son
Comfort for a grieving mother
Rev. Yeprem Kelegian
Watch Now: Rev. Yeprem Kelegian leads a prayer at vigil for Dontrell “Trell” Bush Wednesday in Racine
Children smile amid mourning
Carl Fields, “Hope Dealer”
Rev. Yeprem Kelegian
Long Live Trell
A moment of new friendship
Watch Now: Van A. Carson Sr. of the Racine Family YMCA leads a hymn at vigil for Dontrell “Trell” Bush
A hug from a friend
Diana Panuncial of The Journal Times contributed to this story.
“He ain’t into that (street violence). A good kid, never been in trouble. He just wants to be a kid.”
Scott Williams, regarding his son Drekarion “Bob” Williams