CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Charlotte is in the midst of a violent year. The Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department say as of September 24, there have been 79 homicides in 2019.
- CMPD is honoring all homicide victims in a ceremony on September 25 for the National Day of Remembrance
- Victims services help families with planning funerals, paying bills, and more
- STAY INFORMED: Sign up for our breaking news and weather text alerts
- LISTEN TO OUR NEW PODCAST: Sen. Phil Berger Opens Up About His Early Years and How it Shaped His Powerful Political Career
After a tragedy happens, many family members of victims are left wondering who they can turn to and how to try and cope with the loss of a loved one.
Christine Tarlton's son Randy was murdered on December 30, 2018. The day started like any other, but around 10 p.m. her world was turned upside down.
“All of the sudden, out of nowhere, I heard just heard boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, multiple shots," Christine said. "All of the sudden, I just heard my son screaming my name, because you could tell he was getting closer and closer to the front door. He was saying 'Mama! Mama!' We kind of run into each other, and he fell on me. He was like 'mama, they shot me.”
Randy was shot 14 times, and died in his living room.
“This happened at 10:13 p.m. By 10:38 p.m., they pronounced my son dead,” Christine said.
CMPD officers and crime scene investigators filled the home and neighborhood trying to piece together what happened.
Shardal Rose, a victim support specialist with CMPD, was also at the scene trying to help Christine and her family.
“We get an alert to our phone. We’re on call. We get up. We respond to the scene," Shardal said.
“Miss Rose, for the last eight months, when she came into my life, like God just put her right in front of me, because I can call her when I’m having a good day, bad day, any day,' Christine said.
Rose has been with Victims Support Services for three years, after serving as a dispatcher with CMPD for five years.
"I always wondered when I hung up the phone, what happened to that person. So now, being in a victim advocate role, I’m able to follow up with them, and know what’s going on in their lives," she said.
Part of that follow up comes in the form of the victims support group. Once a month, family members of homicide victims come together to talk, cry, and find healing.
“They’re truly the only ones that can explain what they’re feeling," Shardal said. "I never tell families I know what you’re feeling because I haven’t experienced that. So, just to be there amongst others that have experienced it is truly helpful.”
Christine says right now it's too hard to make the drive to the meetings.
"I try not to cry. I try not to break down, and I definitely know when I get around other families, and I hear their stories, and they’ve lost their children, its just going to make me cry,” she said.
It's the same feelings James McGill had after his son Ja'Ron was shot and killed in 2009. Ja'Ron was walking home after visiting his girlfriend when he was shot on Milton Road.
“We know no more than we knew the night we was called that he had been shot. For ten years, it’s a long time," James said.
Since that night, James took time to grieve, and eventually returned to the support group.
“You meet other parents like yourself, and you get strength from other parents like yourself," he said.
James has become so involved with the group, he's now a trained volunteer that can go to crime scenes and talk with victims' families moments after a tragedy.
“We go through life, and we learn lessons in life, but those lessons are only taught to us to help somebody else," James said. “Sometimes we question ourselves why, why…why me? But then I ask the flip side of that. Why not me?”
Even though it's the family nobody wants to be a part of, Christine, Shardal, and James are now connected for life.
"Without her, I don’t know how I would make it. Because I pray every day I thank God, but then I also thank Miss Rose,” Christine said.
“This is the worst moment of their life, and just knowing that you’re helping in any way is what drives me," Shardal said.
"We’ve become a family. And we understand that death is a part of life, but this thing what they call homicide, it does not have to exist," James said.
Victims services will also help families with planning funerals, paying bills, and they can also help families that live out of state find resources in their area.
CMPD is honoring all homicide victims in a ceremony on September 25 for the National Day of Remembrance. The ceremony is at 6 p.m. at CMPD's headquarters in Uptown Charlotte.