Kei’lan’s aunt speaks out after teen’s tragic death


Kei’lan Allen aunt

By WVUA 23 News Reporter A’Leeyah Ponder

A little over a week after his untimely death in a drive-by shooting, the aunt of 13-year-old Kei’lan Allen is praying for an end to the gun violence that took her nephew and another teen just days later.

In recent weeks, the Tuscaloosa area has seen an uptick in gun-related deaths, including Kei’lan’s and 16-year-old Trinity Shannon, who died Oct. 19 in a Northport drive-by shooting.

<p class=”x_MsoNormal”><span data-ogsc=”black” data-ogsb=”white”>“As a society somehow, we have to find other ways to solve our conflicts besides using guns,” said Michelle Cole-Barnes, Kei’lan’s aunt.<br></span></p><p class=”x_MsoNormal”><span data-ogsc=”black” data-ogsb=”white”>Kei’lan died Oct. 15 in his West Tuscaloosa bedroom, the lone victim of a drive-by shooting police said was aimed at another member of his household.</span><span data-ogsc=”black” data-ogsb=”white”><br></span></p><p class=”x_MsoNormal”><span data-ogsc=”black” data-ogsb=”white”>Cole-Barnes said law enforcement needs to work on stopping gun violence in West Alabama and across the state.</span></p><p class=”x_MsoNormal”><span class=”x_normaltextrun”>“Our law enforcement having better relationships in the community is going to be critical,” said Cole-Barnes. “</span><span data-ogsc=”black”>And probably starting at a young age, which they already do. A lot of (law enforcement) are in the school systems and trying to build positive relationships.”</span></p><p class=”x_paragraph”><span class=”x_eop”>Cole-Barnes said the hate spreading through communities is causing great pain around the world.  </span></p><p class=”x_paragraph”><span class=”x_normaltextrun”>“Too many families are crying,” she said. “We have to stop this foolishness.”</span></p><p class=”x_paragraph”><span class=”x_normaltextrun”>According to the Tuscaloosa Violent Crimes Unit, there have been 13 deaths caused by gun violence in Tuscaloosa County since Jan. 1.</span><span class=”x_eop”> Three of those happened this month.</span></p><p class=”x_paragraph”><span data-ogsc=”black” data-ogsb=”white”>Barnes said children should be taught conflict resolution tactics early in their lives so they can apply those lessons when they’re older. </span></p><p class=”x_paragraph”><span class=”x_normaltextrun”>“If we want to make America great, let’s start treating people with respect,” Cole-Barnes said. “Let’s treat people the way we want to be treated.”</span></p><p class=”x_paragraph”><span class=”x_normaltextrun”>Although Kei’Lan was called to heaven all too soon, Barnes said she believes his legacy of respect and honor can inspire the community and the world.</span><span class=”x_eop”>  </span></p><p class=”x_paragraph”><span class=”x_eop”>Stillman College awarded Kei’Lan with a posthumous acceptance at his homegoing last week in honor of his academic interests and success. </span></p><p class=”x_paragraph”><span class=”x_eop”>And on Wednesday, Kei’Lan’s family and peers met with Trinity’s family during a candlelight vigil hosted by Northport Mayor Bobby Herndon.</span></p>

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