Mothers of children killed in gun violence represent loved ones at March for Our Lives

Marchers call for stricter gun control laws

By Japhanie Gray - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - Mothers of children who have been killed in gun violence were present during the nationwide March for Our Lives event Saturday afternoon

Sandy Phillips' daughter, Jessica Ghawi, was among the victims killed in a mass shooting at a Colorado movie theater in 2012.

“Of course, she grew up in San Antonio but went to Colorado to study journalism in college,” Phillips said. “It was her last semester. She went to see the midnight screening of 'The Dark Knight Rises' with her friend, who is also from San Antonio.”

Phillips said she received a call from her daughter’s friend after the shooting began.

“When he called me, I could hear screaming in the background,” Phillips said. “He told me the shooting was happening and when I asked if Jessica was OK, I knew she wasn’t. Because if she was, she would have been the one who called me.”

Phillips said she is still dealing with a very tragic memory that no mother should ever have to have about their loved one.

“My daughter was shot six times,” Phillips said. “Her head shot left a five-inch hole in the left side of her face.”

Six years later, Phillips now works coast to coast empowering families in similar situations. She spoke at the rally that kicked off the March for Our Lives event.

“You never get over it. You get through it and you keep going, and you keep pushing harder,” Phillips said.

Phillips wasn’t the only mother in attendance on behalf of a fallen child. Janie Esparza attended on behalf of her son who was shot and killed in front of their home in 2016.

“I am here to be his voice,” Esparza said. “This cannot be happening. This needs to stop. Enough is enough.”

Esparza, like others at the march, encourages all families to be strong and to never give up.

“Every life I can save, that is a plus,” Esparza said. “I couldn't save my son that day, but I am willing to help anybody.”

Lori Rocha is another mother who had a son killed by gun violence.

“It was a road rage incident,” Rocha said. “My son was a passenger, and their vehicle was targeted. That person pulled out an assault rifle, a weapon of war, and shot at the car. My son was killed and the driver was injured. My son was shot two times in the head with bullets from an assault rifle.”

Rocha credits her willingness to speak up for other victims to her faith and the support of others.

“Not one more,” Rocha said. “Not one more life lost to assault rifles or to any gun violence anywhere.”

The mothers, as well as other participants in the march, said they all wanted one thing and that was change in gun control policy.

“We are finally talking about background checks on a level that has never been seen before, and that makes me so excited that we are going to curb this violence,” Phillips said.

Copyright 2018 by KSAT - All rights reserved.