On the anniversary of Peyton ‘P.J.’ Evans’ death, his family and community in Landover, Maryland, brought flowers to the 8-year-old’s hilltop grave.
His mother Tiffany Evans stood in the group gathered to memorialize his life, sharing her memories of his stellar math skills and promising life.
“It’s been a very emotional day for me. I’ve been crying since morning,” she told WTOP.
She said that the family chose to bring red roses — red was P.J.’s favorite color — and planned to drop them before saying “long live P.J.” at 8:21 p.m., the time of his death.
Joyce Hudgins, P.J.’s grandmother, said that losing “the sweetest little boy on earth” was extremely painful for her.
“He was my ‘ride or die.’ You know, when he wasn’t with his mother, he was with me,” she said.
Recalling her grandson’s thoughtfulness and caring nature, Hudgins said that there needs to be a change across the state when it comes to gun violence.
“I just want Maryland to get a hold of the gun violence. I want it to stop,” Hudgins said. “We have little kids that are getting shot — mothers, grandmothers. They just need to get a handle on the gun violence all over the United States.”
P.J.’s mother said she believed the responsibility for handling gun violence is not just in the community, but in parenting.
“You’ve got to be willing to sacrifice … You’ve got to really take time with these kids and show that you care about them,” Evans told WTOP.
Commenting on the ongoing case brought by State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy against four indicted suspects, Evans said she knows justice will be served for her son.
Desmond Nkwocha, 21, Mark Nkwocha, 23, Dominque Johnson, 21, and George Shamman, 23, were all arrested and charged in relation to Evans’ death. Police believe that the 8-year-old was killed by a stray bullet that was intended for Johnson.