Mother of slain son starts Moms Demand Action group in Roanoke

By Irisha Jones - Reporter

ROANOKE, Va.- - A Roanoke mother says she won't sit back and see another person killed by violence and not do something about it. There are already chapters of Moms Demand Action in Blacksburg, Lynchburg and Charlottesville. Karen Cobb is expanding the organization to the Roanoke Valley.

Ten years ago, life changed for Karen Cobb. She lost her only child, a son, to gun violence. 

"He was a very artistic student, very talented," said Cobb. 

Kyle Ellis graduated from William Fleming High School in 2001. But at the time of his death, the 24 year-old was living in St. Petersburg, Florida. The night he died, his mother says, he was recording music at a studio.

"He just came in and just started shooting. My son was in there along with his friend, Cabretti Wheeler. They were both shot multiple times," said Cobb. 

After her son's death, she began to think of ways to help others affected by gun violence. In early Februrary, Markel Girty, the son of a friend, was shot and killed in northwest Roanoke.

"I just said this is too much. Enough is enough. I need to do something to bring community awareness to find some answers and solutions to the gun violence that's been going on. Not only around Roanoke but across the United States," said Cobb. 

She's now the group leader for the newest chapter of Moms Demand Action for the Roanoke area promoting gun safety and common-sense gun laws. 

"We're not against the Second Amendment. We work with both gun owners and non-gun owners. We just want to make our communities and our children in the world safer. And that's our goal," said Cobb.

Cobb learned about the national grassroots organization while at a vigil in Florida after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. 

"Everything that I do, I do it in honor of my son. And in honor of his daughter, who is getting ready to turn 12. I want her to go to school feeling safe," said Cobb.

As the Moms Demand Action Roanoke chapter grows, Cobb is also looking to work with law enforcement and the court system to start a victims advocacy group to provide assistance for families of murder victims.

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