TAMPA, Fla. - Months after grandson was killed by another teen playing around with a gun, a Tampa Bay woman is on a mission to not let that kind of grief affect other families.
Loretta and Keith Hart carry a portrait of their 15-year-old grandson Koby as a reminder.
“We heard of stories happening like this before Koby. We didn't think this could ever happen to us,” said Loretta.
She told FOX 13, last July, Koby left Hillsborough County to visit family in Ohio, and he ended up at a friend’s house one day.
“While he was there, one of the teenagers left the room. The teenager came back with a 9mm handgun. He fired the gun at the ceiling and it did not fire. After that, he took the gun, pointed it at Koby, pulled the trigger, killing my grandson instantly,” said Loretta. “The grief has been horrible. I have cried every single day since I got the phone call.”
Loretta is turning her pain into action. She created a Facebook page called “Koby’s Youth Gun Safety Act” and began the process of trying to spread awareness about gun safety with classrooms.
On Tuesday, she told the Hillsborough County School Board what she wants to see.
“I have spoken with law enforcement. I have spoken with resource officers. I didn't wake up one morning and decide, 'Hey, I'm going to do this.' I put a lot of homework into this,” she said.
And after listening to her speak, school board members worked with her to see how she can get their students to hear the message more often.
For Loretta and Keith, having more informed students could prevent other children from what happened to Koby.
“He respected them. He knew what the result would be if you pulled the trigger. And unfortunately, the kid that he was with didn't understand that,” said Keith.
A Hillsborough County schools spokesperson said third and seventh-graders do learn about gun safety in school. Loretta said she hopes her program can make that awareness more frequent.
She also plans to share her message in Polk County and with state officials.