Vigil planned for brothers killed 10 years ago | News
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A Jacksonville father is revisiting a painful past to support others.
Leon Kirkland's two sons and their aunt were gunned down in 2002; a case of mistaken identity.
"It's hard for someone to say it gets easier, because it really don't," Kirkland said.
It happened September 26, 2002. Ten years later, Kirkland remembers every single detail, from finding the scene taped off to seeing the car riddled with bullet holes.
"I got a phone call and said my kids got in an accident. And I'm like, okay, okay, how bad this accident is, not knowing that," Kirkland paused to compose himself. "My kids got gunned down and lost their lives."
Johnnie Gatlin had just picked up her nephews Chris and Dion from football practice when all three were shot and killed in the parked car at 3rd Street and Fairfax.
The men who shot at the car, mistakenly believed a rival drug dealer was inside.
Maurice Silas, Carlton Lumpkins, and Latroy Bouknight were sentenced to life in prison.
Kirkland struggled for 10 years but he also grew. A year after his sons were murdered, he was able to look through the letters and pictures sent by the boys' classmates.
Recently, he and his wife Tara started a motorcycle club, which they hope to expand to a ministry.
And Wednesday, he'll go back to 3rd Street and Fairfax for the first time.
The Kirkland family and M.A.D.D. D.A.D.S. will hold a vigil there.
Kirkland hopes his journey will allow him to give strength to another family.
The Jacksonville M.A.D.D. D.A.D.S. chapter started 10 years ago after the Kirkland boys were killed.
The vigil will be at 6:45 at 3rd and Fairfax.