'No questions asked': Mothers of Peoria homicide victims plead with illegal gun owners to trade weapons for cash
This Mother's Day weekend, a group of local mothers of homicide victims are asking the public to give up their guns.
From 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, May 7, gun owners can anonymously trade their guns for $100 cash.
Yolanda Wallace lost her son Jon Buckley to gun violence in 2006. She hopes gun owners participate.
"We're trying to get the guns off the street. ... hand guns, AK's ... we want them all. We want the guns that kill our kids. We want the guns that kill our sons and daughters," Wallace said. "If we can get the guns off the street during this holiday, let's do it."
While armed security will be on site, no ID is required to trade in a gun. No names — and no questions — will be asked, Wallace said.
Gun owners can bring their guns to any of the following locations:
- Peoria Nazarene Church, 5504 N. University St.
- Carver Center, 710 W. Percy Baker Jr. Ave.
- Higher Dimensions Church, 2610 W. Nebraska Ave.
- King & I Restaurant, 1917 N. Wisconsin Ave.
The $100 cash awards are being provided by an anonymous donor, Wallace said. For more information, contact Pastor Martin Johnson at 309-494-8319.
The gun-buy back program has two goals: to reduce future violence, and to bring forth justice for past victims.
Stacey Johnson King III lost her son, Percy King IV, in May of 2020 to gun violence.
Her son's killer has yet to be found. She has hope that the gun buy-back program could lead to more evidence in her son's case.
"If you just bring the guns in you get the money, and no questions will be asked," she said. "Maybe one of the guns on the street will help solve my son's murder."
Tomeka Love's loss was much more recent.
Her son Kanye Stowers, a 17-year-old senior at Richwoods High School, was shot April 8 in Bloomington. Stowers' classmates held a vigil for him in mid-April, and shared stories about him with WCBU this week.
"You have to be in a mother's place to feel what we feel," she said. "It's unexplainable. We're tired. ... They're young. Our kids are dying before us. We want some type of closure."
Stowers was just a month away from graduating high school when he died. Love said her son had already ordered his cap and gown. He had dreams of becoming a psychologist.
Love said she will not rest until justice is served.
"My son has not even been in the ground three weeks yet. ... He's speaking to me. He's telling me not to give up. He's telling me that God is going to prevail," he said. "If you're listening, the person who did that to my child ... I want you to turn yourself in. Do the right thing. With yourself. And with God."
While the gun buy-back program is being organized by the local mothers and funded by the anonymous donor, Peoria Police chief Eric Echevarria said he will assist the group in whatever way possible.
"This is just another tool ... in a toolbox of many things in our anti-violence initiative," he said. "Everything is on the table at this point. ... We will continue as a police department to everything we can to drive the violence down and work in collaboration with our community members and our stakeholders."
Following the gun buy-back program, mothers and families of homicide victims will meet at 2:45 p.m. near the Taft Homes/Providence Pointe housing complex.
From there, they will walk together to the Jon Buckley Memorial Garden — the garden Wallace constructed in her son's honor in 2012.
The small garden overlooking the Illinois River offers a serene place for survivors to reflect and find solace. Wallace said the garden is open to those who have lost a loved one under any circumstance — not just gun violence.