‘We can change this.’ UPS driver and kids killed by gun violence remembered at vigil

Slain UPS driver Frank Ordonez and children killed by gun violence were remembered at a candlelight vigil Wednesday in Liberty City.

About 200 people honored lives lost at Florida Parents of Murdered Children’s emotional fourth annual vigil at Mt. Calvary Missionary Baptist Church. The group, led by activist Tangela Sears, lobbies for local, state and federal legislation and advocates for services to help individuals and families impacted by gun violence.

“We are talented and inherently blessed as we balance life in two worlds: embracing the pain of the past while carrying our children with us into this uncertain future,” said Sears, who lost her son in 2015. “Grieving mothers and fathers think of their children first thing in the morning and before their eyes close at night.”

Grieving parents shared their testimonies at the pulpit. Battery-powered candles were passed out as the names of the victims were read aloud.

Some were so overwhelmed with grief, they left the room.

Ordonez was killed last month in the crossfire following a high-speed chase after a heist in Coral Gables. Police officers exchanged an estimated 200 rounds with two robbers, who had abducted the UPS driver and hijacked his truck before leading police on the chase that ended at a Miramar intersection.

Between 2005 and 2016, more than 370 children and young people under the age of 20 were killed by gun violence in Miami-Dade County. But more than 500 teenagers and children survived crime-related shootings between 2005 and 2015, according to hospital data compiled by the Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade County and the Miami-Dade County Injury Surveillance System.

Also at the vigil were Miami-Dade commissioner Daniella Levine Cava, Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert and City of Miami Police Chief Jorge Colina. Cava is running for Miami-Dade mayoral race and Gilbert is a candidate for Miami-Dade Commission.

“This room today is filled with hope on the dawn of a new decade. We are here still because we have hope, because we have faith, that it can be different,” Cava said. “We can change this violence in our culture that knows no reason and has known no season.”

The office Gilbert is running for has been corrected in this post.