Mother of slain Tampa woman taking action against violent crime
TAMPA, Fla. - The mother of a woman who was shot and killed while in her car at a Tampa intersection is turning her grief into action by hosting an anti-crime barbecue.
After six months, each day has only gotten longer for LaMaria Smith than the one before.
"When I get up in the morning, I try to say, ‘You know what, I am going to have a positive day,’ and my mind just reflects right back to her."
Her daughter, Savannah Mathis, was shot at the intersection of Grace and Delaware on Dec. 1 while driving with her sister.
Tampa police have made arrests, but none of Smith's invisible wounds have healed.
"I was walking in a store the other day looking at baby clothes," she said during an interview on Wednesday. "I will never have a grandkid. Never see my daughter walk down the aisle."
Since then, Tampa has seen at least 25 killings, including two last week. Smith feels a kinship with each family in pain.
"It is out of control. It is ridiculous," she said. "Back in my day, you fought, you got over it, and you were friends the next day. I don't understand why they feel like they have to take somebody's life to make a point. They are taking theirs too, once they get caught."
That’s why she’s taking action. On June 26, she is hosting a barbecue in MacFarlane Park she calls, "Stop the Shots."
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"Let’s talk and figure out what we can do to suppress this gun violence," she said. "It's too much to keep up with. You get over one and here comes another, and here comes another."
The doses of reality hit most strongly once the police tape is gone, the media coverage slows down and the court process presses on, Smith said.
She visits Savannah's grave every day.
"I don't know what normal is anymore," she said. "I don't know what happiness is anymore."
Tampa Police is hosting an anti-violent crime forum on Friday, June 17 at 26th Ave. and 15th St.
Smith's barbecue is being held at the MacFarlane Park shelter on June 26 at 1 p.m. It is expected to last until 6 p.m.