For almost a year Tawnia Lomax has been dealing with an issue that far too many mothers in the African-American community have been going through—mourning the loss of a young son to Black on Black violence.
The epidemic of Black on Black violence continues to touch families all over the country and is rapidly increasing, with no end in sight. In 2011, there were 73 homicides in Allegheny County, 58 of them Blacks, 51 of them Black men and what is even more alarming, many of them 30 years old and under.
But while Lomax continues to mourn her son’s death, she continues to fight even harder for justice and is asking for witnesses.
“I’ve never lost a child and never planned on it. I can’t sleep, think or concentrate. I pray for peace and ask God to give me strength,” Lomax said about life without her son. “Jaquay was a very intelligent person, if he put his mind to it, he could do anything.”
On April 27, 2011, Lomax’s son, Jaquay, then 19, was shot multiple times during the middle of a nice spring day at the Duquesne Place Apartment Complex in Duquesne while visiting friends. He was reportedly shot in the chest and as he ran away, shot multiple times in the back. Lomax said he was hit at least 10 times and according to witnesses she has spoken to, the suspect, James Williams, then proceeded to go through Jaquay’s pockets. Jaquay was taken to UPMC McKeesport, where he later died.
In August 2011, Williams was arrested in Cambria County on unrelated charges and later charged with the death of Jaquay. The reported motive was a $500 debt.
Lomax said her son knew the suspect, but was not sure how.
According to another newspaper, a few weeks prior to Jaquay’s death, he was arrested in McKeesport and faced numerous drug related charges, along with resisting arrest.
Now, almost a year later, the jury trial against Williams is expected to begin later this month and while she alleges there were numerous witnesses to the shooting, Lomax said there is a lack of cooperation from the community and is pleading for their help.
She said for a year police have been visiting the site of the shooting trying to get information, but few are cooperating.
“They (the detectives) have been good at their job. I called them two or three times a day and they stayed in touch with me. I guess if you work with them and are patient, they will work with you,” she said. “My son was not going to be an unsolved murder. There are too many unsolved murders in Duquesne.”
Lomax said witnesses are either pretending that they did not see anything or “people tell them (the police) the story, but no one wants to come forward and testify in court, they are being ‘silent’ witnesses. If it were their child they would come forward.”
“You go up there and 2-year-olds, 3-year-olds, even 5-year-olds will tell you the whole story of what happened,” she said.
Although many people have been subpoenaed, Lomax said only one person was willing to come forward on their own and is also upset that her son’s friends are not being more active in the investigation.
“Let’s get this murderer off the streets and (in jail) where he belongs. (We) can’t sit there and let this mess go on,” she said.
Not only has the homicide of Jaquay taken a toll on Lomax, but she said her other children have been affected too, they have had to seek counseling to get them through.
“Kids need to realize when they take a life, the court takes theirs. No one wins,” she said.
She also said more needs to be done by community leaders, public officials and police. She suggests more education and job training for young Black males and more security cameras.
“There are security guards and cameras in Duquesne, but there are still incidents,” she said.
For the one-year anniversary of Jaquay’s death, Lomax has planned a vigil on Friday, April 27 at 6:30 p.m. at the Duquesne Place Apartments. She said it is open to anyone who has lost someone to gun violence and will be a way for people to relieve their pain and say a prayer for peace.
Anyone with information on the shooting of Jaquay Lomax is asked to call Allegheny County Homicide at 412-473-1300.