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Foundation in memory of teen North Charleston mass shooting victim opens doors

Published: Jul. 31, 2021 at 6:07 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 31, 2021 at 11:43 PM EDT
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NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Dozens of North Charleston residents gathered despite the heat Saturday afternoon to remember the life of 14-year-old Ronjanae Smith, who died in a mass shooting at an unauthorized concert in the city on May 22.

Just over two months after Smith died in that shooting, her family members cut the ribbon on a foundation in her name dedicated to bringing about positive change and reducing gun violence in the area.

Smith’s father Ronald said it’s all about building a community to support the next generation so more families don’t have to go through what he did.

“When my daughter passed away, it kind of took a big piece out of me. And when it took the big piece out of me, that made me move right then,” he said.

Despite that loss, he quickly got to work creating what would become the foundation.

“Before he even buried his daughter, he starting putting together a team, like before the funeral, before the wake, he was like ‘This is what I want to do, this is what we’re gonna do,’” Donnimechia Singleton, the executive director of another gun violence prevention group, North Charleston SC Youth Resistance Inc., said.

The foundation’s headquarters at 2025 Reynolds Avenue will serve as a community gathering place where young people can go to get advice and resources for school and jobs rather than feeling alone and turning to violence.

“If we can put something in the hood that needs it the most, this will help someone else look for a job, just coming to and hearing their problems,” Smith said.

It’s these grassroots community groups that Charleston County’s deputy administrator of public safety Eric Watson said can really bring about change, and they should be given the resources to do so.

“If we really want to get a hold or understand the community, invest back into your grassroots non-profits,” he said. “They have an impulse of what’s going on with our youths, our adults, they understand what’s going on in the community.”

Smith wanted to move quickly to get it up and running since gun violence continues to plague the community.

“I know that she’s smiling and she’s telling her daddy to push,” he said. “She knows I’m the type that love(s) to push; I move forward, I don’t slow. My body is tired right now but to get this moving now, that was the best thing, that was the best thing.”

The shooting also injured 14 people. Four people were arrested.

To learn more about their efforts, click here.

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