Sharletta Evans is one of those people. She lost her 3-year-old son in a drive-by shooting in 1995. At the time, Evans was a single mother of two living in Denver, Colorado.
On December 21, Evans heard about a drive-by shooting the night before at an apartment complex where her grandniece lived. Hoping to whisk the girl out of the dangerous neighborhood, Evans loaded her two sons into the back of the car and headed to the girl’s home.
Upon arrival, the boys had fallen asleep. She decided to leave them in their car seats while she ran inside the home to grab the girl and her bag. It would take only a couple of minutes, Evans thought.
Another Drive-By Shooting
Evans’s life will never be the same after that split-second choice. Member of the gang ki*lled her 3-year-old son Casson when they thought Evans’ car was a rival’s and opened fire. Sixteen shots were fired at the car by the gang, hitting both boys. The 6-year-old boy named Calvin was hurt, but he lived.
“He took his last breath in my arms,” Evans painfully told New Republic. “Still, I thought they could revive him.”
It turned out that the shooter was Raymond Johnson, a 15-year-old boy. Johnson was arrested. As soon as he was found guilty, Johnson was sent to prison for life without the chance of parole.
Evans Visits Johnson in Prison
Forgiveness did take time but in 2012, some 17 years after she lo*st her son, Evans had a change of heart; she forgave him.
“I forgave him,” Evans said to CBS News. “Forgiving him was the only thing that allowed me to go on and be there for my surviving son.”
She went to see Johnson in prison with Calvin, who is 23 years old. Johnson is now 33 years old. Johnson had hoped for a long time to hear that she forgive him for taking her son away. Johnson looked at Evans and said, “I messed up.” Tears were running down his face. She told him she knew what he said was true.
Before the visit was over, the three of them talked for a while. Evans gave Johnson a hug and promised to stay in touch with him before she and Calvin left.
Evans told CBS News, “I took him in as my son because he didn’t have his parents.” She mentioned that she didn’t want the teen to “suffer anymore because he had such a hole in his heart for taking my son’s life.”
Her way of letting go was to meet Johnson and forgive him in person, she said.
During those 15 years, Johnson’s life was hard. He had been to at least twelve different homes before he came to the streets to find love and direction. His mother worked the streets because she was addicted to drugs, and his father was in prison. Johnson was hit by a car when he was 2 years old and got a traumatic brain injury. By the time he was 9, Johnson was in a gang because his older cousins got him to join.
Evans, Johnson Keep in Touch
Evans and Johnson still talk on the phone and write letters to each other every week. Evans writes checks to Johnson so that he can buy things he needs while he is in jail and call her often, about twice a week.
My condolences to Ms. Evans on the loss of Casson. May he continue to rest in peace. I cannot imagine. I am so very happy her heart is big enough to forgive and that she has found the peace she deserves.