NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — As the Nashville community continues mourning the lives lost in The Covenant School shooting, we are reminded of another Tennessee tragedy. Five years ago this weekend, four people were killed in a mass shooting at an Antioch Waffle House.
“Yeah, it’s still very vivid to this day,” Abede DaSilva explained.
On April 22, 2018, Abede was there as a gunman stormed into the Waffle House firing an assault-style rifle, and she witnessed his brother Akilah DaSilva’s last words. After seeing Akilah in a casket, his family knew they had to transform their pain into advocacy.
“Just knowing the type of person he was, I felt like we had no choice but to fight for advocacy. I just feel like that’s the best way to represent him, to honor him,” said Abede.
Today, from D.C. to Tennessee, you will find Akilah’s mother and brother marching, protesting and speaking up to prevent gun violence.
“I’m there all the time,” stated Akilah’s mother, Shaundelle Brooks.
Busying their minds through the Akilah DaSilva Foundation, this is their life now.
“It’s draining, very draining,” Brooks sighed.
Five years later, through their cries for change, she says the gun laws have only weakened.
“It’s sad because you’re not safe anywhere. You can’t go to the Waffle House, you can’t send your kids to school,” she said.
Just minutes from where bullets were flying from another assault-style rifle at The Covenant School, Brooks’ youngest son was on lockdown.
“‘Active shooter in Green Hills,'” she said, describing an alert she received. “I’m like, ‘God, not again. You cannot be this cruel, you can’t let this happen again.'”
This time it wasn’t her son, but that of three more children and three adults — a tragedy she thought would trigger lawmakers to take action.
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“We are still not talking about gun violence and prevention and how we can prevent this from happening. It’s sad. It makes me angry, at times frustrated, ’cause how could you not care? I feel like unless they experience what we experience maybe they will do something,” she explained as she shook her head.
Now, her son Akilah is home, his ashes inside a clock.
“The clock represents timeless, he’s going to be with us forever.”
While vowing their pleas for gun safety will also be never-ending.
“We are not going to stop, we are always going to honor him with action.”
The family’s fight for action continues this weekend. Rep. Justin Jones (D—Nashville) will be speaking during a five-year remembrance service at the Waffle House Saturday in honor of all four victims killed in the mass shooting: Akilah, Taurean Sanderlin, Joey Perez and DeEbony Groves.
For more on how you can support the Akilah DaSilva Foundation, CLICK HERE.