MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Just about a year ago, an entire community came together to mourn the loss of a 3-year-old boy. On the day after Christmas, someone shot and killed Terrell Mayes, Jr. as he ran upstairs to safety, after hearing gunshots outside his home in Minneapolis.
In this Season of Hope, WCCO is partnering with Slumberland to try to make the holidays a little better for families.
So Reg Chapman went to see the Mayes, in hopes of making Terrell’s brothers’ Christmas a bit brighter.
“My kids, if they hear, even think they hear a gun shot it’s happening all over to them,” said Marsha Mayes, Terrell’s mother.
It has been a long year for Marsha Mayes and her three boys, 12-year-old Ezra, 11-year-old Ezerenta and 3-year-old Marrell.
They’ve spent it in a basement apartment in south Minneapolis.
“The basement is way more protected,” she said. “It’s concrete, nothing is going to come past these walls to hit them so they don’t have no fears right now.”
The foursome take refuge in Mayes’ king-size bed, the only bed in the apartment.
Mayes feels having her boys close is one way to deal with their fear — fear that a bullet could come flying inside and claim their lives at any minute.
They remember that’s exactly what happened to their brother, Terrell, last year, the day after Christmas.
“When I hear a shooting I think about it, I start remembering the day and how it happened,” Ezra said.
All three still deal with the horror they witnessed that day — they were all together in their house on 26th and Colfax Avenue in north Minneapolis.
“We were going upstairs, I was on the stairs and I said, ‘come on, I hear a shooting y’all,'” Ezra said.
The boys were told to run to a closet for safety whenever they heard gunfire.
Three-year-old Terrell or “Junior” was the last to run for cover.
“He was climbing up the stairs, little by little, and he was sitting there and a bullet came through the house. He fell down the stairs,” Ezra said.
Terrell died that day, a bullet to the head silenced the laughter of a 3-year-old child. Since then, the children left behind have suffered.
Nightmares, fear of loud noises and thoughts of being hit by gunfire fill their minds, leaving no time to be just a little boy.
“Once upon a time, I thought people forgot about us,” Ezra said.
“Nobody was calling my mom with no leads, no nothing,” Ezerenta added. “People weren’t thinking about it, the billboards had came down.”
The boys say they lost hope, felt no one cared about what happened to their brother or them.
So, WCCO’s Season of Hope elves came with big bags full of things that would make any boy smile.
From coats, hats and mittens, to pajamas and electronic games. Their smiles stretched even wider, when they learned the folks at Slumberland donated three new beds for the boys.
They even helped unload the truck and carried their own beds into the house.
“It means I don’t have to sleep with a brother with stinky feet, a little brother that just keep hitting you. He sleeps wild,” Ezra said.
Mayes says this Season of Hope has put smiles on the faces of her boys, smiles she hasn’t seen since before Terrell took his last breath.
Mayes says the sound of laughter lets her know how much the gifts mean to her children.
For this family, this season will be one of restful nights and peaceful dreams, now that a little hope has been sprinkled into their lives.
The boys got bags of toys and candy. And the thing that got them most excited: new pajamas and those beds.