BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Instead of celebrating his 19th birthday, the family of a Biloxi teen are holding a vigil to remember the young man after he was shot in Gulfport last week.
Robert Tatum was killed May 31 after more than 100 gunshots were fired at a graduation party, killing the college freshman and injuring others.
Now, on the eve of what would have been his 19th birthday, his family is left planning a memorial for the teen instead.
“This right here has been too much for me,” said Robert’s grandmother, Patricia Tatum. “I can’t imagine in everything in life that I would sit here and bury a grandchild.”
“I just look at it, like, he’s at work, you know. I’ll see him later," said his father Robert Carter-Tatum.
Robert’s mother says he was growing from a young boy to a man with purpose.
“However he interacted with you, you would remember him, from his smile to his big heart," said Cherie Savoy-Pittman.
Robert had just completed his freshman year at MGCCC Perkinston. He had dreams of going into business as an entrepreneur.
“He knew that he was going to be the boss of whatever it was he wanted to do," said his sister Brittany Savoy-Tatum.
Now, as his family prepares to hold a vigil in memory of the young man, they are pleading for justice and an end to the violence.
The Tatums hope people can become united in the quest for peace. They say it takes a village to create a safer community.
“It starts from home," said Robert’s older sister Brittany. “But if you don’t have a home, it’s okay to vent to other people or find someone that you feel loved.”
Robert Carter-Tatum says guns should only be in the hands of responsible adults and not teenagers who want to show off.
“Guns are not to brandish, to make it seem like you are God almighty, because there’s only one God," said Robert’s father.
Authorities have not released very many details about the shooting, saying only that there were two white vehicles that pulled up as the party was ending and opened fire. No other description of the vehicles or the suspects have been given.
But the Tatums are asking anyone who may know anything at all to please come forward and help the police so they can get justice for Robert.
“I hope (God) leads each and every one of you all that may have any type of information to do the right thing,” said Robert Carter-Tatum.
If anyone has any information about this shooting, please contact Gulfport Police Department at 228-868-5959. Anonymous tips can also be made to Mississippi Coast Crime Stoppers online or by calling 877-787-5898.