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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Mother: ‘Jalisa is always with me’

Photo by David Grace —
Patricia Ferguson — holding a family photo of Landon and Jalisa Ferguson and Patrick Beatty — poses Wednesday with Patrick Beatty, Jai-Lesa Delaney, Landon Ferguson and Gloria Miller. Jalisa Ferguson was killed June 14, 1994, just days after her 4th birthday.



KINGSPORT — A group of teenagers sang a song of praise near a park in Riverview. A mother in the crowd wiped away tears, touched by the song and looking at children born the same time her daughter Jalisa was in 1990.
“You never get over a child dying, never. But I’ve got great memories and a great niece that keep me going,” said Patricia Ferguson, sitting underneath a shade tree Wednesday while watching children play inside a park named after her daughter.
Jalisa Ferguson celebrated her 4th birthday on June 14, 1994. Eleven days later, she was gone.
A crossfire gunfight in the Riverview housing community on June 25, 1994, cut her life short as a single bullet struck her, the result of a shot fired by an alleged drug dealer.
“It was hard for me to look at little girls for a while. I was hurting so bad,” said Patricia Ferguson, dabbing her eyes but smiling when her 3-year-old great-niece Jai-Lesa came running up to her.
“She’s part of the reason I’m here. Sometimes I feel like the Lord put that little girl here for a reason. The pain is tough sometimes, but I’ll tell you, that girl looks just like her, and sometimes she talks just like her. I’m blessed to have her in my life.”
Imagine having to live through the same kind of pain twice. Patricia, unfortunately, has gone through the trauma of losing two children who were dear to her.
The second death occurred when one of her former neighbor’s children, whom Patricia baby-sat, was killed by a younger brother who had picked up a handgun that accidentally discharged.
The accident occurred in Knoxville last summer when Candaria Horton, 4, was killed.
“I just couldn’t believe it or accept it for a while. I just kept thinking why she had to die, why just like Jalisa. Nobody knows what I went through with that,” said Patricia.
As a result of Jalisa’s death, a concerted effort between community and city leaders in Kingsport to improve conditions in Riverview was launched.
“It does help and makes me feel good that my daughter is still remembered in the community, and that some change came about because of what happened. It doesn’t make it any easier, but we are learning to go on with our lives, but Jalisa is always with me,” said Patricia.