Gun violence support group started by Anderson mom

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ANDERSON, Ind. - There’s a mother in Anderson who hopes her message reaches families who are suffering. After the loss of her son, Sandy Stapleton struggled to find support, so she’s now taken matters into her own hands.

“This is I guess my way of keeping his memory alive,” said Stapleton. Her necklace is a constant reminder of the love she has for her son.

Sandy Stapleton’s necklace is a constant reminder of the love she has for her son.

“Yes, I wear him very close,” Stapleton added as she showed off her necklace.

Her son, Tommy, was shot and killed in May 2019 during an argument. His case is one of the six homicides involving gunshots in the past two years, according to Anderson police.

“It has to stop,” Stapleton demanded, “I know Anderson doesn’t have a lot of gun violence, but there is gun violence here.”

The shooting left her feeling lost with no one to talk to. She couldn’t find a support group that specifically helped families of gun violence victims. She described the feeling as different.

Most of the people she met with had lost loved ones due to illness or natural causes. She had a hard time relating to them, since her son was a victim of gun violence.

She turned to her faith and launched Tommy’s Voice - a support group held at her church.

“I struggle every day and to have someone that you can talk to, that knows exactly how you feel it makes a big difference,” Stapleton explained.

Her mission is to invite retired police officers, lawyers and victim advocates to join the conversation.

“Our nation as a whole and our people around the world are getting less and less respectful for one another. We’d rather hurt one another than talk with one another,” said Pastor Rick Jones, “We’d rather use violence than sensibility and that’s a tragedy in any community.”

Pastor Jones believes inviting families into their church is a step in the right direction.

“Death is never easy on anyone and certainly the death of a child is difficult, and death of a child in tragic situations is even worse. So, to have a group that can come together and talk through those specific emotions I think is a great thing,” said Jones.

Stapleton is reaching and speaking out in honor of Tommy to help and put a stop to gun violence.

“I think it’s going to make a difference more for those of us who are left behind,” said Stapleton.

Group meetings are scheduled the third Thursday of the month. The next meeting will be Thursday, February 20 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. at Cross Roads United Methodist Church in Anderson.

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