Nova Scotia·Point of View

Jerell Wright's mother speaks out on anniversary of teen's death

Darleen Wright says her family is still searching for justice, and doesn't want any mother to go through what she has suffered.

Jerell Wright was the unintended victim of a shooting and died in 2009

Darleen Wright's son, Jerell, was 19 years old when he was shot while standing outside a home in North Preston, N.S., in 2009. 2:15

Jerell Wright was 19 years old when he was shot while standing outside a home in North Preston, N.S., on May 13, 2009. His mother, Darleen Wright, shared memories of her son to mark the anniversary of his death in hospital on May 21.

No one has been charged in Jerell Wright's death and the case remains unsolved.

I was filling out the donor form for my health card, and he came in as tall as he was and leaned over my shoulder. 

"Mom, what are you doing?" Jerell asked. "What are those check marks for?"

I told him they were for which organs I want to donate.

"That sounds like a good idea," he said. "Can I do that?"

So we did it for him too.

Who would have known that I would be holding his hand in the ICU not long after that? He fought like a true soldier through the surgery, and he fought for a week in the hospital to live. 

I told the doctor that Jerell was a donor. Jerell's organs went to at least four people, maybe more.

Darleen Wright with a photo of her late son, Jerell. (Eric Woolliscroft/CBC)

Ready to graduate

When he was younger, he loved soccer and hockey. When he was older, it was basketball, basketball, basketball. Jerell loved basketball.

He was almost ready to graduate from high school in May 2009. I said "Listen, I went to Dal, do you want to go to Dal or SMU?" He wanted to work with children, and I told him I would help him whichever path he wanted to follow. 

But a few days later he found himself in the arms of Jesus.

Jerell was found by himself

He was in North Preston that day to play basketball. He went up to the youth centre to practice. One of his buddies yelled out to him and he went up in that yard. Like the RCMP say, he wasn't the intended target. Those bullets don't have names on them.

Jerell Wright at his Grade 9 graduation.

There were 15 to 20 people in that yard that night for whatever reason. But when my son was found, he was by himself. And that's what hurts me the most. All those people left him for dead. 

But he didn't hit the ground. He was still fighting. He had one knee on the ground and he was trying to stand when he was found.

He was a good kid and it shouldn't have been him. Nineteen years old and so much to give the world. 

Empathy for the mothers

Each day I get a little bit stronger, but I get pushed back a step with each and every murder. It's senseless, there's no reason behind it.

I didn't know the boys who have died in the past few months. My empathy is for the mothers. Loss is not an easy thing, especially when it's a child.

Jerell Wright's mother says her son's organs went to at least four people when he died. (CBC)

Case is not closed

I know how I've cried and been angry for seven years. I can't have closure, I can't grieve. 

Jerell is with each and every person who has information about his death. There were girls in that yard that night. I say to them: You have children, you have mothers. How would you feel if it was you going through what I'm going through? 

It's time to speak out. You'll sleep better. 

I'm trying my best to keep his name and his face alive, we need justice. But we also need no more mothers to suffer the way I have.

There is a $150,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of the person(s) responsible for the murder of Jerell Wright. Contact Nova Scotia Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

As told to CBC Nova Scotia's Jennifer MacMillan.