8-Year-Old Zahmire Lopez Among 1,300 Children Killed by Guns in the US

By | October 17, 2023

Eight-year-old Zahmire Lopez, who was shot and killed at his home in Newark, New Jersey, in May, is one of over 1,300 children and teens killed by gunfire in the US so far in 2023. Gun violence has become the leading cause of death for American youth, surpassing motor vehicle accidents.

Editor’s Note: This story is part of a series profiling American youth killed this year by guns, a leading cause of death of children in the US. Read more about the project here.

In May of this year, the world lost a vibrant and talented young boy named Zahmire Lopez, affectionately known as “Zah.” Just 8 years old, Zah was full of life and energy, always bringing joy and laughter wherever he went. His mother, Leontine Niangara, fondly remembers a rap song he had recorded, showcasing his enthusiasm and confidence. Little did she know that this would be one of the last memories she would have of her beloved son.

Zahmire was tragically shot and killed at his home in Newark, New Jersey, becoming one of the more than 1,300 children and teens in the US who have lost their lives to gun violence this year alone. Firearms have now surpassed motor vehicle accidents as the leading cause of death among America’s youth.

Niangara struggles to cope with the loss of her son, as not a moment goes by where she doesn’t think of him. The shooting occurred in her home on May 3, and Zahmire was rushed to the hospital but was pronounced dead shortly after. The incident also claimed the life of Wyleek Shaw, a close friend of the suspected shooter, Niangara’s boyfriend Everett Rand.

The video footage released by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office shows the chaotic scene that unfolded that night. Niangara describes the incident as happening “very fast” and believes that Rand’s drug use played a significant role. She laments the fact that her son, who had fought so hard to survive after being born prematurely, had his life cut short.

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Zahmire was a vibrant and lively child who loved music, football, and spending time with his family. His infectious laughter and energy brightened up every room he entered. His mother remembers his fear of dogs and how she got him a pet dog named Ghost to help him overcome that fear. And it worked.

As Niangara tries to navigate life without her beloved son, memories and mementos are all that she has left. She is considering moving from their home, as it serves as a constant reminder of the tragic events that took place. But she knows that no matter where she goes, Zahmire will always be with her in spirit.

The loss of Zahmire Lopez is a painful reminder of the devastating impact that gun violence has on families across America. It is a call to action for society to come together and find solutions to prevent such senseless tragedies from occurring in the future..

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