WASHINGTON - Among the survivors of the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, a D.C. teen shared his experience as the sibling of a victim of gun violence with the hundreds of thousands of people at the March For Our Lives.
Zion Kelly, 16, the twin brother of 16-year-old Zaire Kelly, addressed the crowd of student protesters, friends and supporters Saturday.
"Zaire had the personality to light up a room," said Zion Kelly.
Zaire had stopped at a convenience story near his home in Northeast D.C. when police said 19-year-old Sequan Gillis tried robbing Zaire and shot him in the head.
Zaire managed to stab Gillis with a pocket knife in self-defense, but Gillis would then shoot Zaire, authorities said. Both died from their injuries.
Zion spoke of his own encounter with the same robber earlier that day who later took his brother's life.
"I am here to represent the hundreds of thousands of students who live every day in constant paranoia and fear on their way to and from school," said Zion.
Zion held back tears as he spoke, but was cheered on by thousands in the audience, when speaking of his brother's death.
"He was a person. A leader. An inspirer, not just another statistic," said Zion.
Zaire was described as a scholar, athlete, friend and beloved classmate at Thurgood Marshall Academy, where he had just entered his senior year and was the team captain on the track team. His friends said he was looking to attend Florida A&M University after he graduated.
"We went to the same school and shared the same friends. We even shared the same room," said his brother. The teen spoke of sending last text messages with his brother while he walked home.
"Can you imagine how it would be to lose someone that close to you? Sadly, too many of my friends and peers can. This school year alone, my school lost two students to gun violence" said Zion.
Thurgood Marshall student Paris Brown, was shot and killed in January on Skyland Place in Southeast D.C.
Zion said since the start of the year, six students under the age of 19 have been killed by gun violence in the District.
"Just like all of you, I've had enough," said Zion.
The Kelly family is now proposing the Zaire Kelly School Zone Amendments Act, which would create safe passage zones for students to and from school and expand the definition of "student" in the District to further protect students and ensure their safety.
DC’s own Zion Kelly, brother to the tragically slain Zaire Kelly, addresses the crowd, and speaks of possible legislative remedies to the gun violence that plagues the District pic.twitter.com/9Vew3ReHC8— Council of DC (@councilofdc) March 24, 2018