HOUSTON – The families of Arlene Alvarez, Diamond Alvarez and Ashanti Grant joined together to protest the recent gun violence that took the lives of their children in recent months.
The rally began shortly before 9 a.m. and is led by Gwen Alvarez, Arlene’s mother.
“We all have the same pain, and I hope you understand. If these kids belonged to a police officer, there would have been justice,” she said in Spanish. “Our justice system is not responsive.”
Arlene, 9, was accidentally shot and killed inside her family’s truck while a robbery was ongoing at a southeast Houston Chase bank on Feb. 14.
“We need to get these criminals off the street,” Arlene’s dad, Armando Alvarez, said. “We got people dying and (the criminals) are coming out on low bonds and yet we have kids dying.”
Court records show Tony D. Earls, the man charged with shooting Alvarez’s daughter, was released on $100,000 bond with conditions.
The crowd repeatedly shouted “No more low bonds!” as Armando Alvarez continued to speak. He also added that “changes must be made now” during this year’s midterm election.
They also showed support for the family of 11-year-old Darius Dugas, who was shot and killed outside of his apartment while retrieving his jacket on Feb. 3. The person accused in his killing was taken into custody on the day he was laid to rest.
“Someone needs to be accounted for. We have people who don’t have proper training to hold a gun without the knowledge,” he added.
The grandmother of Ashanti Grant, Elaine Williams, stepped forward and told reporters that the 9-year-old girl is still in a light-induced coma and is “improving, but continues to fight for her life.”
“We want everyone to continue praying because we are not out of the woods just yet,” she said. “What has happened to Ashanti is truly a blessing.”
She added that no one has come forward in the case. The reward for the suspect’s arrest still remains at $30,000.
Ashanti was shot during a road rage incident while riding in her family’s vehicle on the way to the grocery story on Feb. 8.
The mother of 16-year-old Diamond Alvarez later spoke and added that she gets less than two hours of sleep each day so she can “make sure the cameras work each day.”
“My family and continue to feel threatened. I can’t have my children in that neighborhood anymore. I don’t want to lose another kid,” Diamond’s mother, Anna Machado, said, “She left me alone.”
Alvarez, 16, was walking her dog when she was shot 22 times by her ex-boyfriend, Frank DeLeon Jr. at a southwest Houston park on Jan. 11. DeLeon Jr., who is now charged with her murder, bonded out a short time after. His bond was set at $250,000 on the condition he remain on house arrest and submit to GPS monitoring.