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Recent tragedies difficult for East TN crime victim's families

10:26 PM, Apr 21, 2013   |    comments
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Sunday marked the kick-off to National Crime Victims' Rights week.

It's always an emotional time for families who have lost loved ones here in East Tennessee, but recent events in Boston and Sandy Hook have made things even harder this year.

At Volunteer Landing Sunday afternoon more than a dozen families gathered for a Remembrance Ceremony to honor loved ones lost to violence. The support group, Hope for Victims, organized the ceremony and walk that included releasing 24 doves as symbols of peace.

The family members they lost continue to serve as symbols of a bigger problem affecting not only East Tennessee, but the entire country.

"There's just so much, every single time I look around, there's tragedy," said Joan Berry. Her only daughter, Johnia Berry, died in 2004 after a home invasion.

Bradshaw and other family members say recent trajedies bring back bad memories.

"My God it breaks your heart... if you've been there, you understand better and we know what those parents are feeling," said Tracy Bradshaw, who's son Saywer Webb died from gun violence in 2011.

"When things like that happen, it reminds me of my pain, more focused, even though I live with it daily, it's almost traumatic each time a violent event like that happens," said Amparo Atencio, mother of Tony Phillips who also died from gun violence.

But, at the ceremony officials offered what advice they could to stop the violence.

"You're the ones that demand and need to be demanding more from your elected officials," Mayor Tim Burchett said at the ceremony.

"We are all out to do the same thing, and that's to get the people that have caused this harm, to hold them responsible and accountable," said Knoxville Police Chief David Rausch.

No arrest has been made in the Brittany Eldridge case. She was murdered along with her unborn son, Zeke, in 2012.

Yet, her mother Robin Owens continues to pray, too, that justice will one day to find her family.

"We're still working on the case, we're working on it everyday, justice is coming, we don't know when, but it's coming," said Owens.

If you or your family have lost a loved one to violent crime, Hope for Victms holds support meetings the second Monday of each month at Church Street United Methodist Church in Knoxville.

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