NEW ORLEANS – The holidays are supposed to bring families together to share good times. But last year, Christmas changed the dynamics for LaRicha Rousell. Her 14-year-old son, Ja’ Mere Alfred, was fatally shot outside a New Orleans pharmacy.
Ja’ Mere is described as a funny boy who loves his family, football and his band. His life was cut short on Christmas Day 2020. The gunmen are still big.
To help cope with her grief and help others going through similar situations, Rousell founded two nonprofits: The King Ja’ Mere Alfred Foundation, which focuses on children who lost him. sisters for gun violence; and Mothers Empowered For Justice, which helps families seeking justice stay on top of the cases of their loved ones.
Rousell, for his part, refuses to give up his claim of justice for Ja’ Mere and continues to raise his memory.
Zenger spoke with Rousell to discuss Ja’ Mere’s legacy, the foundation she’s established, and gun violence in New Orleans.
Percy Crawford interviewed LaRicha Rousell for Zenger.
Zenger: Tell us how it felt to get the call about Ja ‘Mere on Christmas Day last year.
Rousell: When I got the first call, I was told that there had been an accident. I was thinking about the car accident. Mind you, Ja’ Mere went with her family for 14 years at Christmas. He never misses a year. He will always go. I didn’t know at the time and it was a shooting or he was murdered. I didn’t know until his dad got to the hospital and things started going downhill. I was exhausted. Ja’ Mere was left with her family. He went to Walgreens with his cousins, and then this situation happened.
Zenger: Obviously, Ja’ Mere wasn’t the target, but is this a random shot?
Rousell: It wasn’t a random shooting, and the target was someone else, not Ja’ Mere.
Zenger: Have there been any arrests for his killing or is this ongoing?
Rousell: It’s still an open case. Ja ‘Mere was with the family, so the family has to take responsibility and go to the press to tell the truth. An innocent 14-year-old child was murdered.
Zenger: How would you describe Ja ‘Mere as a kid?
Rousell: Ja’ Mere was a cheerful, witty kid, an old soul. He loves the band, football and loves me, his dad and siblings, his teammates and friends. He’s just a sweet kid. He never caught a whore, very intelligent, always alone. He loves his family.
Zenger: How compulsive are you to not only tell his story but continue to shed light on the violence that plays out every day in New Orleans?
Rousell: When I got the phone call and I realized that my shoes as a parent & mldr; and don’t get me wrong, Ja’ Mere has two parents, and he always will. But when I realized the role of parenting had changed, I wanted to make a difference. I know that’s what Ja’ Mere wanted me to do. For me to live up to his legacy is also a blessing to other people and families.
I told God I didn’t want to get in trouble. This kind of stuff is designed to get parents out. For myself, Ja ‘Mere is my only child; to his father, he is a boy. I can only imagine what he must have gone through. I want to be different and to heal other parents who are going through this. Is it difficult? Yes, that’s right. I can’t have any more children. But I feel like God is bringing about change in me through this process.
Zenger: I’m sure it’s hard for you when you hear gunfire or watch the news and see constant violence.
Rousell: It was difficult. I don’t really watch the news, but I have a team of people who tell me what’s going on. Like the 11-year-old who was murdered the night before. They were shooting someone, and she was shot. It is just absurd. I just don’t understand it. I think young people who are doing this, you don’t even shoot the people you’re trying to shoot, which means you shouldn’t shoot anybody.
Innocent people are affected by this. When it happens, people [killed] continued to be with the Lord, but it was the family who suffered. Sometimes there is no return. You have broken and broken families, separated or divorced parents and in some cases parents just lunatics.
Zenger: His birthday was a week ago, and he’s turning 15. Christmas is just around the corner – how does his murder on Christmas Day change the way you celebrate the holiday season?
Rousell: I just honored him. One thing I always say, Ja’ Mere is not here in physical form, but his spirit is very real. That will never leave us. As long as I live, I will continue to live his legacy on both platforms, and do what I have to do for him, his legacy, and continue to do for others.
Rousell: The King Ja’ Mere Foundation was founded for brothers and sisters who have lost other siblings to senseless gun violence, to academia, to band and football. We have scholarships and we donate for that. Mothers empowered for justice are more than for the families that have been affected by this. The mental health part of it – puts them under the direction of their case managers and detectives.
I received a lot of phone calls that detectives did not return, and you did. I’ve been lucky that I don’t really have that problem, but other families do. And it really puts families off. But I told them from day one, I’m not giving up on my child’s case.
Zenger: What was the hardest thing when Ja ‘Mere wasn’t here anymore?
Rousell: I miss him so much. I got a little better. We take him to the soccer field every year in the summer. At first, I really just felt that he went to Atlanta or Houston to train and he would come back. That’s what I really had in mind. And then God went on to say, “Richa, you know that’s not true.” So I got better with it.
My mind tends to go to the left sometimes, but I get it. He’s in heaven, I don’t believe Ja’ Mere has to suffer. He is with the master, he is with the Lord, and he is resting. His case will never cool. God has promised me justice and I believe it. I believe God will make the truth clear.
Edited by Matthew B. Hall and Judith Isacoff
https://www.blackenterprise.com/after-losing-teenage-son-to-gun-violence-laricha-rousell-focuses-on-helping-others-cope/ After losing her son to teenage gun violence, LaRicha Rousell focuses on helping others cope