JEANERETTE, La. (KLFY) — Sugar City is mourning the loss of 4 young lives in less than a week. Wednesday night, 7-year-old Lehemiah Simon was accidentally shot in the head by a 15-year-old cousin. And last Friday, siblings 20-year-old Lindy, 15-year-old Kamryn, and 17-year-old Christopher Simmons were killed when a car going the wrong way on I-49 crashed into them.
Jeanerette’s a close-knit community, and Lehemiah’s death happened on Main Street. Now, his family and the mayor are asking for Acadiana’s prayers.
“Full of hugs. Full of Love. Just as humble as he could be for a seven-year-old,” remembered Minister Carnell Wiles who is missing the hugs of his grandson.
7-year-old Lehemiah Simon was pronounced dead Wednesday evening after being airlifted to a Baton Rouge with a gunshot wound to the head. Wiles says he is trusting in God as he always saw Lehemiah do.
“I kind of called him the philosopher,” Wiles said. When asked what advice his grandson would be giving now if he were here, Wiles added, “He’d probably say, ‘Poppa, look we need to get together as a family and pray.”
Prayers have surrounded Jeanerette all week. So has generosity with 14,000 people giving more than a half-million dollars to the Simmons family who also lost three children Friday during a crash with a driver who was heading the wrong direction on I-49 in St. Landry Parish.
Shea Simmons, one of nine children told News 10, “It just gives a little bit of relief knowing that there are people who do care and understand the gravity of the situation that they’re willing to go out of their way and try to help as best as they can.”
Mayor of Jeanerette Carol Bourgeois Jr. said, “What I’m looking at is the resiliency of the citizens here in our community and the love and the care that they’re showing, and that’s what it takes.”
Mayor Bourgeois thanked his whole community that came together from bystanders to first responders to help Lehemiah and his cousin after the 15-year-old accidentally fired a gun he found while they were both sitting in a car according to authorities and family. Wiles said the young teen is shaken by the accidental shooting and will be getting therapy.
“He’s taking it kind of hard because he’s a child, and he’s growing up himself,” Minister Wiles added.
After this tragedy, gun safety and how to teach it is front of mind.
“I just pray that all the leaders can come together, and we can do better as a community for our children,” Wiles expressed.
Bourgeois agreed stating, “We might even need to move a program of gun safety into our schools. Teach these kids to understand what guns are intended for and the safety components about it.”