Violence this deep doesn’t just show up one day on the doorstep unannounced.
Brooklyn Murff’s grandmother admits as much, including her own poor choices. But she will forever be grateful that her precious granddaughter isn’t “a statistic.”
By that, Arthurine Simmons means that the baby didn’t die in the drive-by shooting. She’s not a homicide victim. But the whole family are victims now. The damage doesn’t show up in spreadsheets and tallies. It’s the invasive way trauma undercuts people’s lives after a violent crime.
Kansas City was horrified last September to hear how then-10-month-old Brooklyn was shot in the head in a spray of bullets. Her father, an admitted gang member, had been released from federal prison a few weeks before. He was holding Brooklyn when the shots were fired and was also shot, but not critically. That wasn’t the last of his problems.
On Tuesday, the father — Darius A. Murff — pleaded not guilty to new charges, being a felon in possession of firearm ammunition.
Also this week, the baby had another MRI. She’s a precocious 1-year-old, walking and talking and appearing developmentally on track. Except her head. The bullet left it misshapen. Brooklyn had always been called “Cheerio,” an apt noting of the baby’s roundness of head, eyes and limbs.
“I know he didn’t do it intentionally,” Simmons said of Brooklyn’s father. “But everything changed in that instant.”
The baby’s mother hasn’t returned to high school. Already struggling academically, she missed too many classes in the months after the shooting. Police sirens (frequent in their East Side neighborhood) cause Simmons to jerk. She takes roll from her cellphone, checking the whereabouts of her family.
Her older daughter was murdered (unsolved, like Brooklyn’s shooting) in 2010. Simmons is raising that daughter’s three children too. One of them, a preteen girl, has agreed to counseling. She’s angry, says her grandmother.
Darius Murff, I’m sure, has his own tale to tell. Some of his loved ones were present at a vigil for Brooklyn during the first days when she was on a ventilator. That would be the vigil where some idiot showed up and starting waving a gun in the air.
At some point, the jig is up — when a young man who likely didn’t have the best start in life needs to face the reality of his actions.
How about the day you father a child?