WASHINGTON - "They got a slap in the wrist, I got slapped in my face," said Crystal McNeal in response to the sentences handed down on Friday for three of the four suspects charged in the murder of her 11-year-old son, Davon McNeal.
Three of the suspects sentenced on Friday pled guilty this past February.
Accepting plea deals, Judge Rainey R. Brandt sentenced 21-year-old Carlo General, who was suspected of firing the fatal shot, to 16-years of incarceration. Marcel Gordon, 27, received 10-years behind bars and 24-year-old Christen Wingfield was given 9.5 years.
All three were also ordered to undergo 5 years of supervised release after their time is served.
Davon McNeal, at 11-years-old, was a middle schooler and aspiring professional football player who was shot and killed by a stray bullet when gunfire broke out at a July 4, 2020 peace cookout.
McNeal’s mother, a D.C. Violence Interrupter, held the event for her community. The line of work as a Violence Interrupter includes bringing people together and mediating disputes.
On Friday, McNeal spoke about how she and other leaders with the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services and the head of the D.C. Violence Interrupters program had previously worked with the men responsible for murdering her son. She said that the gunmen agreed to cease fire.
Daryle Bond, 20, is scheduled to be sentenced on August 4, 2022. His plea agreement calls for a term of 7.5 to 9.5 years in prison.
"It’s not a good time," McNeal said. "The justice system is really messed up. They did my family wrong today."
Upset by the sentencing, McNeal gave an emotional and passionate speech Friday at a summer anti-violence event hosted by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser.
McNeal said more support needs to be given to Southeast D.C. Violence Interrupters, especially.
You could hear the emotion in her voice as she said, "The reason why I’m still doing this work is because I love the work that I’m doing. I get phone calls at 3 o’clock in the morning asking me can I pick them up from school because these kids messing with me in school. So, I’m going to Kramer, Anacostia, Ballou picking up these kids, making sure they get home safe."
McNeal hopes residents will hear her plea: "I just want them to put the guns down, let our kids live."
On Gun Violence Awareness Day, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced the launch of a summer-long awareness campaign called, "202 for Peace Campaign." It includes a produced song, social media, and community events meant to inform people of what city resources are available for those facing or fighting gun violence.
The mayor celebrated $80 million in her budget going toward non-police interventions. She was criticized for being slow to fund the violence interruption at Wednesday’s mayoral debate. Given this, FOX 5 asked how the mayor would explain Friday’s event is not about the upcoming election.
"That would just be silly. If that’s the accusation then people don’t know our work in the community every single day," Mayor Bowser said.
A part of the press release for Friday's Gun Violence Awareness Day explained the mayor's budget allocation further:
"The Mayor’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget invests more than $80 million in non-police interventions, including $13.5 million to expand recreation opportunities, particularly for young people, and increase access to high-quality programming that keeps residents safe and engaged. The Mayor’s budget also invests in extending meaningful learning opportunities to District youth when they are outside of school, including:
• $6.4M to continue the expansion of the Marion Barry Summer Youth Employment Program
• $5M to extend out-of-school time grant opportunities and preserve continuity to youth programming
• $3.9M to expand out-of-school-time recreation programs provided by DPR and community-based organizations, focusing on athletics, visual arts, performing arts, e-sports, culinary arts, other programming of interest
In addition to these youth-centered investments, the District’s new budget includes $2 million to hire 20 Life Coaches to provide intensive and high-quality care coordination services for the approximately 200 residents identified to be most vulnerable to violent crime."
"I’m proud that I created the office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement that is now 5-years-old that went from a fledgling agency to one that now has over 100 staff – people, mental health professionals. And we are going to be adding capacity with additional life coaching," Mayor Bowser added.
The Mayor, once again deferred to the D.C. Council, telling FOX 5 that if any councilmembers are upset about funding, the council could’ve funded it.
"Well, I think it started before the mayor. We’ve been 10 years without funding this work. And when I started doing the work, it took years before we got results," said Ron Moten, a long-time D.C activist and Go-Go Museum founder. "They started investing in this like five years ago, more so now than ever but the investment has started. I think it’s important. I just think there has to be a balance with this an accountability,"
In regard to how the city plans to address youth violence when school lets out for the summer, Mayor Bowser mentioned summer school camp but said she’ll lay things out at a future date.
For now, she advised parents to contact principals for more program info.