ST. LOUIS — A grandmother and mother are making an emotional plea to end gun violence after losing their 7-year-old granddaughter and daughter, Dmyah Fleming, in the Central West End last year.
It will be a tough Mother's Day this weekend as they grieve the young girl's death, yet the two are finding a way to turn their pain into purpose.
Dmyah and her father, Darrion Rankin-Fleming, 26, were shot and killed on Jan. 24, 2021, on the 4400 block of Laclede Ave. This weekend, their family will hold a march to say enough is enough.
"Her little books and her little purses. I had just bought her this bike for Christmas," said Suketha Rankin, while pointing inside a bedroom that’s turned into a memorial for her son and granddaughter.
She also keeps letters from her granddaughter’s classmates.
"Be happy in Heaven. I'm sad, but I still love you,” she said reading words from one of Dmyah's first-grade classmates.
Rankin holds these mementos close to her heart to help ease the pain.
"Don't nobody care until it’s your baby or your grandbaby,” she said.
Now Rankin is doing something to try to get more people to care about stopping violence. She's teaming up with Dmyah's mother for the second annual march to remember Dmyah and her father.
"During the march, it gives me a little comfort because I know we’re still celebrating her,” said Dmyah's mom, Janice Johns.
They've got the balloons and posters ready to go.
"Gun violence is real. People don't come back. ... Stop killing our future,” Rankin said.
Johns said losing her daughter is a pain she doesn't think a killer can comprehend.
"You’re killing kids that won't even have a chance to have a future yet, like you’re stealing that away from them."
As the first of two suspects prepares for trial in July, the family is on a mission to keep other families from living their story.
"It could be somebody riding past our march about to go kill somebody. It's like, 'Look at these babies. Think about these babies before you go do what you're going to do,'" Rankin said.
"They're taking our kids away, and that hurts to have to live with that,” Johns added.
Other families who have lost relatives to gun violence will attend Sunday's march, but organizers invite anyone in order to send a strong message to the community.
The march begins at 10 a.m. where Dmyah and her father were killed.