In an unimaginable turn of events, a 12-year-old boy who hoped to discourage young people from joining gangs and participating in gun violence ended up dying from a fatal gunshot on Christmas Day. “I’m going to miss that smile, that dancing and real good character,” the child’s grandmother said.
The 12-year-old from Tennessee, Artemis Rayford, joined the Police Department’s Gang Resistance Education and Training program and even wrote a letter to Gov. Bill Lee about the effects of the state’s permit-less handgun carry law a year earlier. He noted: I am a sixth-grader at Sherwood Middle School, and it is my opinion that this new law will be bad, and people will be murdered.
In the early hours of Christmas morning, his prediction tragically came true. Artemis was killed playing a game inside his grandmother’s home when someone drove by and fired a gun. The bullet struck his chest, according to reports. “I’m going to miss that smile, that dancing (and) real good character,” said Joyce Newsom, the child’s grandmother, said at the time.
Rayford or “Sean” as he was affectionately called at home, was a 7th grader at Sherwood Middle School and played football and basketball for the Orange Mound Raiders. “I don’t see how in the world he could have gotten shot in the chest. I don’t understand that,” said Newsom.
Speaking of the incident, MPD stated on its Twitter page that the boy was transported to the Children’s Hospital in critical condition but pronounced dead. Neighbor Elnoid Parker said, “He won’t come up this street, he won’t go down this street no more, and like I said, he gone be missed cause I see him every day.
When you see kids like that and you don’t see him no more, how they done lost their life, it’s sad.” Kenny Lee of Ride of Tears, an organization that sheds light on children’s lives lost due to gun violence added, “This supposed to be Christmas morning, we supposed to be loving on each other, and to sit up and not only shoot a child but take the child’s life, I’m mad as hell,” Lee said.
“I’m mad as hell. I mean, where do we go from here?” The boy’s grandmother noted, “They think these guns are going to save them but it’s really not. There’s got to be another solution besides using guns.”
So far, there have been no arrests made connected to Artemis’ death. Anyone with information should call Crime Stoppers at (901) 528-CASH.