On March 10 while playing basketball with his cousin in Southwest Philadelphia, 15-year-old Antonio Walker Jr. was shot and killed and became yet another statistic in a year already riddled with gun violence in Philadelphia.
His mother Nydisha Williams, Williams’ father Martin Boyd and her brother, all described a series of events that no family should ever have to deal with in the face of such unimaginable tragedy.
According to this family, from the time they arrived at Penn Presbyterian Hospital, to the day they buried Antonio, they had very few answers and received zero empathy on every level.
“There needs to be a different process — especially at the hospital, where no one spoke to us and we felt like we were a part of a conveyor belt after being told my grandson died and not much else,” Boyd said, describing the desensitized way he and his son were treated as they mourned the loss of this bright star in their family.
“To this day, we have no idea what happened to Antonio, no idea how many shots were fired, we have nothing and that is not okay,” Williams said. “My son was not of this world and in fact, he was smarter than me and I was okay with that. He was on the honor roll, and just an old soul way before his time.”
The family was also concerned that they had heard nothing from the police department for days after Antonio was murdered. There was a feeling that the police were desensitized and not fully helping the family to get the answers that they needed.
The police department has a process of not giving much information while they do their investigation and that is understandable. But, what this family and many others are seeking is a more sensitive way of handling their grief by at least sending someone to explain that process.
Philadelphia has been riddled with gun violence since the beginning of 2021 and to date, 103 murders have occurred which has led to weekly briefings from the mayor’s office and has city leaders scrambling to find solutions.
The “no snitch” policy in the streets continues to be prevalent in part because of the community’s distrust of law enforcement and fear of retaliation.
Boyd reported that a concerned citizen reached out to Antonio’s mother Nydisha with clear details on who they thought committed the crime, who was driving the car, and an address. All of this information was turned over to the police while the family prays some answers will be forthcoming sooner rather than later.
In the meantime, taking each day to slowly adjust to no longer having their loved one around, is a process that is not only unimaginable, but the void left behind impacts them beyond the headlines of another body gunned down in the city of Philadelphia.
For a comprehensive list of victim services, please visit: phila.gov/districtattorney/victims. For direct inquiries regarding crime victims , please contact:
P/O Latanya Acevedo
Victim Assistance Officer
email: [email protected]