For Thanksgiving, families all across the country gathered together to spend the day with loved ones, but it’s important to keep in mind that for many, there could be an empty seat at the table this year.
According to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office transparency page, there have been 116 murders this year. For one local mother who lost her 17-year-old to gun violence back in September, she told Action News Jax that for Thanksgiving, she normally doesn’t have to work. However, she chose to do so this year in the hope that it would be easier for her to stay distracted during this period.
Elijah McDonald had his whole life ahead of him, but it was tragically cut short on Sept. 27.
“By the time I got there at 2-something, he was already gone,” she said.
In broad daylight, police said Elijah was gunned down in the parking lot of the Huron-Sophia Apartments. The killer is still out there.
“He was riding his bicycle in the apartment complex then somebody started shooting,” Elijah’s mother said. “Just praying it wasn’t true, just praying it wasn’t my son.”
While many families celebrate Thanksgiving with their loved ones, Thursday was the first big holiday that she spent without her beloved son at the dinner table. As she continues to grieve, she opted to work.
“I thought it would be better to be busy and out the house, rather than family and friends and memories of Elijah going to be heavy, heavy in my head and heart,” she said. “I picked to work to keep me busy, keep me not thinking about the circumstances.”
Such Thanksgiving memories remind her of his personality.
“Elijah would be the one that’s not going to cook anything but he’s going to come into the kitchen, have something smart to say — ask if food is done, you know, the one who wants to play around,” McDonald said.
Elijah’s murder is one of 116 that have happened year — and it remains unsolved. As his mother gets through the holidays, she’s keeping his name alive.
“Try to keep Elijah’s name going, try to keep in touch with detectives, the only thing I can do is keep his memory alive,” she said. “Eventually, hopefully, someone will step forward and will say what happened.”
If you know anything about Elijah’s death, you can call the police or Crime Stoppers at 866-845-TIPS (8477).