A mother’s grief, focused on impact and stopping violence

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The worst night of Myra Latimer-Nicholas’ life began with a frantic ringing of her doorbell.

“That doorbell never worked,” she recalled. “But it did that night.”

Six years later, Steven Latimer’s mother continues to fight violence with action, as the face and force behind Saturday’s annual 5k in her son’s name.

“It’s a nice day to remember our loved ones who have been lost to violence, or violence of any type,” she said.

“We have to do something. Here, and everywhere really.”

The motive behind the October 2, 2011, drive-by shooting in Providence that remains unsolved is still a shock.

A few days before Steven Latimer’s 24th birthday, he inadvertently touched a car that police would later discover didn’t even belong to the shooter.

His mother remains stunned by the motive.

“He touched a car, and that set somebody off.” Latimer-Nicholas said. “I still can’t believe it every time I say that. That someone would actually kill somebody over something so simple.”

Three others who were in the car with her son survived.

When Latimer-Nicholas got to the emergency room, she was called in right away to talk with a doctor; a moment that remains difficult for her to talk about.

“Once they did that,” Latimer-Nicholas said in a series of sentences interrupted by long pauses as she remembered that horrible night. “I knew he was gone. It was hard because he wasn’t at the hospital. So I didn’t even get to see him. I never even got to see him.”

Her son left behind a daughter whom Latimer is raising.

Grief returns easily to her face when she talks about what happened, but memories of her son changes that.

“Charming,” she says with a smile. “He was charming. He had a beautiful smile. Kind heart. Good friend. Good father.”

The Steven K. Latimer 5k has become more than a fundraiser, according to mom behind it, but awareness only goes so far.

This year, the Greater Providence YMCA is a sponsor and partner of the event. A good fit, according to Latimer-Nicholas, who tells us her foundation has provided seven scholarships, with hope to raise enough money to one day help even more.

“For families who may not be able to afford a boys and girls club or an after-school program,” she said.

That, she says, could help at-risk teens stay out of trouble.

“We have to do something,” she said. “Here, and everywhere really.”

Send tips to Walt Buteau at wbuteau@wpri.com and follow him on Twitter @wbuteau.