NEW ORLEANS -- Police are still searching for the person who shot and killed a Gentilly woman and her two boys last Friday. The children's grandmother is looking for help from the public.
Debra Smith says she applied for emergency help through the Crime Victims Assistance Program to help bury her daughter Monique, her 10-year-old grandson Justin and her 6-year-old grandson JuMyrin. All three of them were shot and killed in their Gentilly home. Her 12-year-old granddaughter, A'Miya is the only survivor. The young girl was also shot and she's still in the hospital.
"The people who lost their kids, I cried along with them but I didn't know how that felt. Now, I know how that feels," said Debra. She says her daughter was a giving person and her grandchildren were sweet.
"Miya has a sweet, innocent personality, always a loving child. Justin was a stocky little boy," said Debra. She said Justin wanted to be a football player until he started practicing. Then, he changed his mind to focus on basketball. And, the youngest was nicknamed Bubble for his personality.
"He was bubbly. He was outgoing, very intelligent, very bright," Debra said with a smile on her face.
Then, that smile turned to tears.
"He took my children away from me. This man took my children away. I don't know who he is. I don't know why he did it," she said.
Debra has to bury three of the people she loves the most. She says her daughter, Monique, didn't have life insurance, so she reached out to the Crime Victims Assistance Program for help. The state-funded program helps victims of violent crimes with anything from lost wages to funeral expenses.
"I really appreciate that God is showing me they still have good people left on this Earth," said Debra. "You never think you're going to bury your children and that's the way every mom thinks. I always say 'I'd rather be gone first' because I don't know how I would be able to handle the situation. I'm here."
"Most of the time, they can hardly hold up to help themselves," says Sgt. Stephanie Minto-Gibson, who helps victims with the Crime Victims Assistance Program.
The program helps with various costs associated with crime: medical and dental expenses, lost wages, child care, medications and funeral expenses. Debra says she appreciates the help and all the support from the community, but she is having a hard time dealing with the pain.
"That person destroyed my family. I really feel like I'm dead," she said.
A memorial fund at Capital One Bank has also been set up to help the family with expenses. Police have not released a suspect or a motive in this case. A'Miya remains in the hospital after being shot in the face.