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Remembering a great father, taken too soon

When I was 10 years old, my family was living in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. My father Fredrick worked the third shift as a CNC machinist. He always talked to us about the importance of family. He loved all of us. It was 2006, but there are a lot of things I remember about that year.

I remember when Dad took me, my little sister, and my little brother to Chuck E. Cheese to celebrate his birthday. He had been working, but instead of catching up on sleep, he spent that night with us. We all took home sketched pictures and memories of the brand new roller coaster simulator.

I remember Shan, my older sister's boyfriend. Shan was always in trouble. He always brought over his BB gun because his dad wouldn't buy him a handgun. I remember him bragging that when he turned 18, he would finally be old enough to own a real handgun. When he finally did get his new gun, he was so excited that he went out back and shot at the old doghouse in our yard.

And I remember the day my father came home to find him in our house with my sister when he shouldn't have been. It was September 18, 2006—just a day after our fun night together at Chuck E. Cheese. My dad's rule was that my sister's boyfriend was not allowed over after10:00 p.m.

It was already 11, and my dad came home from work unexpectedly. He was angry to find Shan there, and he started to yell. Her boyfriend ran outside. His gun was in the back of his SUV.

My sister tried to keep my dad from waking me and my younger siblings. It didn't work—I was awake in my bed the entire time.

My sister was banging on an outside wall, and her boyfriend assumed she was calling for help. At the same time, my dad found Shan's cellphone on the counter and went to return it. As soon as my dad opened the door, her boyfriend took a shot.

My dad spent the next two days on life support. He passed away on September 20, 2006. The cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head that severely damaged his brain.

Shan tried saying that he was just trying to scare my dad. His actions that fall night took the life of a father of five—a life that is missed every day.

Cheyenne and her father, Fredrick, pictured sledding in 2001.

Shan had a previous criminal record against him for a domestic disturbance and domestic violence. He also had a history of aggression and anger management issues. Background check requirements for gun purchases could have prevented him from getting his hands on a gun, which would mean my dad might still be here today, to see his children—and now, his grandchildren—grow up.

I call for action to prevent gun violence in our country. I will not stop fighting for this issue, and for my dad. I hope you'll join me.

Call for action
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