The Detroit Connection: Families Share Mission to Stop Violence

DETROIT (WSAZ) -- During WSAZ’s investigation into the region’s connection to Detroit, reporter Dan Griffin met with the families of a young couple who died after a shooting at an apartment complex on Detroit’s east side.

He found they share a bond with families here in our region and a strikingly similar mission.

Families who've lost loved ones to crime want to end the violence. They said it begins with a change in mindset and a greater value for human life.

Parents we talked to, who lost children, said it doesn't have to bring you down; it can also empower you.

"It was senseless," said Angela Cuffie.

One word to describe the murder of Angela Cuffie's son, Matthew, 25, and his girlfriend, Tiara Thompson, 18.

The two were shot in an apartment April 7 on the east side of Detroit.

"That's my child, and someone took his life away from me, and I'll never be able to see him again," Cuffie said.

There are still no arrests in the case.

"While these many murderers are still roaming our streets, then no street is safe, no person is safe," said Matthew's father, the Rev. Robert Cuffie.

But instead of getting angry, the couple's families are igniting a change in their city.

"Something has to stop the violence with the guns and drugs and all this, it’s taking too many young lives, you know," said Thompson's mother, Shirley Austin.

They said it means dropping the guns and crime, for faith and a greater value in human life.

"We want to catch these children when they're young, so they don't have the mind to go out and kill someone else, just take someone else's lives," Cuffie said.

It's a message shared by some families in our region, too.

"Look at these senseless deaths and understand that we have so much more to give to this earth. God created this earth for us to enjoy, not to cover up or tear down," said Deanna McKinney.

Last week, McKinney lost her son, Tymel, 18, in the midst of gunfire on Charleston's West Side.

McKinney spearheaded a march Wednesday to end the violence.

"We have to move quickly and if we stay on it now, there's no telling how many lives we can save."

Instead of retaliating, these families said they're doing something positive by sending out a message of change.

"It's going to be alright, because we are going to get through this as a community and together," McKinney said.

The families we talked to in Detroit said they won't rest until the violence stops.

They also said they're holding out hope someone is caught in that murder case.

One of the parents said she learned, "Tomorrow's not promised to us."

Tymel McKinney's death was part of two shootings, just hours apart, on Charleston's West Side.

Following both of those cases, Charleston Police arrested four men with connections to Detroit.

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