Local DA planting trees as memorials to victims of gun violence across N. Mississippi

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ABERDEEN, MISS. (WCBI) – Mississippi has one of the highest murder rates in the country.

Now, prosecutors are showing how families are destroyed but there are things to keep the victim’s memory alive.

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“A piece of my heart has been broken and on this earth, it won’t mend back together,” said Ulanine Williams.

Five months after burying her youngest son C.J., Ulanine continues to struggle with her son’s death.

“It’s like a nightmare that I’m still in. I’m still thinking that he’s going to walk through my door,” said Williams.

In May, 22-year-old C.J. Williams Jr. was shot and killed in West Point after getting into a fight in a parking lot. It is a nightmare shared by too many other families across the Golden Triangle.

It’s one 16th Circuit Court District Attorney Scott Colom is trying to end.

“That’s something we as a community have to stop and prevent. It’s up to us,” said Colom.

This year, Colom has started planting trees as memorials for victims of gun violence.

“A long-lasting memory and to also stand as a deterrent for other young people that make the decision to use gun violence,” said Colom.

This Japanese maple will grow up in the very same backyard that CJ did.

“They say the tree is going to get big and blossom and that’s how my son was. He was big and would blossom,” said Williams.

Colom’s movement is also blossoming.

“Every time we do it, more and more people come to it and there’s more and more attention paid to it and that’s the goal is to bring attention to gun violence,” said Colom.

When friends, family and loved ones plant those trees, Colom says it brings home the dire consequences of gun violence.

“I think it serves as a powerful reminder of how long it takes to heal. Because trees grow slowly and the healing process is a long process,” said Colom.

But it only takes a moment to think twice about pulling a trigger.

“Stop violence so we won’t have to be at someone else’s backyard or front yard doing the same thing. The violence needs to stop,” said Williams.

Mississippi’s murder rate is 15 per one hundred thousand people, according to our news partner WLBT.