Losing a child is a pain no parent should ever know — yet Shamayim "Mama Shu" Harris has endured it twice.
Harris was inspired to inject new life into her Highland Park, Michigan community and make it a safer place to live after her 2-year-old son Jakobi Ra was killed by a hit-and-run driver in 2007.
Her successful efforts resulted in Avalon Village — which, in a cruel twist of fate, is where her 23-year-old son Chinyelu Humphrey was shot and killed in an ambush attack on Jan. 26.
"It just feels like lightning striking twice," Harris, 55, tells PEOPLE in a statement. "Like the first time, when Jakobi got killed… that was just like, out of the blue shock. But then Chinyelu… I don't even know how to really describe it. Unfortunately, I'm familiar with the pain. However, I am coping."
Humphrey was shot multiple times before the gunmen fled, and died of his injuries after going to a friend's house to call 911, WJBK reported.
His mother calls his killers trespassers who "ambushed" him as he sat alone in the very community in which he became "very, very involved" following the death of his younger brother.
"[Chinyelu] was my fireball child. He was the braveheart. Chin had so much heart. He was so loved," she says. "He loved children. Chin helped to build Avalon Village. Chin was my protector; he was my partner. We did things together. It was me and him over here in the Village."
Harris was inspired to turn her community into a safer place following Jakobi's death, she previously told PEOPLE.
"I remember waking up the next morning, thinking, 'I'm living through this pain that I thought would kill me. I'm not afraid of anything anymore,'" Harris told PEOPLE in 2017.
Six months later, she channeled her grief into action, and began working to transform a half-abandoned block nearby into a sustainable eco-village.
After moving in and setting up her nonprofit The Moon Ministry, Harris and a team of volunteers began developing Avalon Village, which is now home to an after-school homework house and a park in Jakobi's honor that hosts community events like concerts and parties.
Future plans include a café, community greenhouse and STEM lab.
Despite the tragedy of losing her son, Harris says she refuses to let it impact the many plans she still has up her sleeve for the future of Avalon Village.
"We're still keeping it moving," she says. "None of that destructive energy will stop what's going on here, because we're on a mission, flat-out… We're rebuilding. We're making things wonderful again over here."
Among the plans for rebuilding, she says, are beefed-up security measures, including fences and a booth to keep people like her son's killers out.
Det. Paul Thomas with the Highland Park Police Department handled the hit-and-run that killed Jakobi, and is now investigating Humphrey's murder, too.
"I hate it, especially for his mother, to have her surviving son get killed. It's terrible," he tells PEOPLE in a statement. "In situations like this, I rely on faith. It's up to me to do whatever I can to bring a resolution to this case."
As those around her work to find justice, Harris and her community are coming together to heal, and a GoFundMe page to help support Avalon Village has so fair raised more than $21,000.
"I'm just really, really sad about this. This is a terrible tragedy to our community," she says. "We feel vulnerable over here. I believe that other people have suffered as well because of this same type of senseless act, and the pain is indescribable."
Source: Read Full Article