‘You never think you’re going to have to bury your child’: Mother of murder victim Malik Easton speaks out

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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – The mother of a man killed in a shooting over the weekend has spoken to News 3. Shanda Sanders want everyone to know who her son, Malik Easton, was and how much he meant to her.

Easton, 28 was shot and killed on Nov. 7, 2021. The shooting took place near 20th street and 12th Ave. Easton was pronounced dead by Muscogee County Coroner Buddy Bryan.

Sanders said she was at home sleeping when she heard the news. Sanders said she was in disbelief because she was under the impression that Easton was asleep in his room. When she realized her son was not in his room she said her reality felt like a nightmare.

“I feel like I’m in a bad dream, I just wish somebody would wake me up and that this really was a bad dream. You never think you’re going to have to bury your child, it’s horrible,” Sanders said.

Easton celebrated his birthday the night before on November 6th. Sanders told News 3 her son was still trying to figure out life.

“His favorite thing was probably just playing basketball and just hanging out with his friends and family. He was an upcoming rapper, he had made his first rap video, it’s on Facebook. He was working at Metro PCS, he has two kids, Malik Jr. and Jocelyn, and he was just 28, trying to figure out life, trying to get his life together,” Sanders said.

Sanders said she had a special nickname for Malik.

“I always call him my nursing school baby, because I went to nursing school completely pregnant with him. So he was just kind of like everybody’s baby when I was in nursing school, you know that was 28 years ago,” Sanders said.

Sanders said it hurt losing her son but it hurt, even more, to hear him referred to as number 61.

“I’m not going to lie and I don’t think the Coroner meant it that way but it really was hard when he was describing things about Malik. He called Malik number 61 and that just really resonated with me and it just was hard,” Sanders said.

Sanders grew up 40 miles from Chicago, where she said she was used to hearing about people she knew getting killed by gun violence. After serving her time in the Army, Sanders decided to move to Columbus with her first child. Sanders said Columbus was a peaceful community when she first moved here.

“Columbus was just born, I thought this was a wonderful place for my sons not to have to be a statistic, to not get killed with gun violence. It’s just so ironic what I was trying to prevent from happening actually happened and just a million thoughts go through my mind, I just dread the day when I really do have to put him to rest. That’s going to put me in a horrible…he was just always full of life, always dancing and joking,” Sanders said.

Sanders believes if her son could talk to her, he would tell her he was okay.

“He would tell me, mama I’m alright, I’m with my grandma and grandfather. Malik would say ‘yall show out and dress the best for my funeral, yall turn up for me’ that’s what he would say, he would say that because he’s up there with his grandmother, grandfather, and uncle so he’s cool. ” Sanders said.

Sanders has one message for the community.

“I feel like in the community we have to do something, my post today was ‘Black Lives are not going to matter until Black Lives start mattering to Black Lives’. The way we’re killing people like I said at his candlelight vigil for every black man you take, you take two. You have one that’s killed and one that’s going to jail, so that’s just depleting our community. Maybe we all need to organize as mothers and try to do something because it’s just ridiculous,” Sanders said.

Funeral arrangements are still being made.

“He was a good person, a good father and I would just really like to see our youth and our black men put the guns down,” Sanders said.

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