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'Taken way too soon': Family hopes to honor KCK homicide victim by changing narrative for youth

Avion Walton was shot, killed on Father's Day
Avion Walton.
Posted at 4:30 PM, Jun 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-01 18:44:38-04

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — Anthony Walton, like any father, was hoping to enjoy Father’s Day. 

“It was Father's Day I got the call," Walton said. "I was expecting to hear my daughter's voice, I was expecting to at least get a text."

However, he received a call that changed his life forever. 

“The only thing that I heard about my daughter that day was a phone call saying she’s been shot,” Walton said.

Walton sat down with KSHB 41 News on Wednesday, barely able to speak.

He called on Bishop Tony R. Caldwell with The Justice and Dignity Center to sit beside him during the interview. 

Both men were at loss for words, remembering Avion and graving the loss of a 17-year-old. 

“[She] always looked at the good in everyone around her,” Caldwell said. ”[She] always made you smile, always kind of a jokester, very kind-hearted.”

Avion was shot on June 19 in the 200 block of South 8th Street. She later died from her injuries. 

The Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department, reports Damion L. Washington, 18, has been charged in this case with involuntary manslaughter.

“I just hate that I feel like I didn’t get to say a proper goodbye,” Walton said.   

Caldwell said Avion had a full life ahead of her. 

“[She] graduated early [and was] on her way to college,” Caldwell said. "[She was] taken way too soon — had her whole life ahead of her and [was] just starting her life over again.”   

He said Avion turned her life around, describing her as a second chance success story.   

“A lot of youth that we see go down the wrong path and never make it out," Caldwell said. "She started down the wrong path, but she made it out and changed her life around and got her grades up and was on the right path. Then her life was taken away from her."

Now, Walton and Caldwell are on a mission to change the narrative for youth like Avion in the community.

The two men want more fathers and father figures to step up to the plate, share their stories and work to create a better relationship with youth who might find themselves in trouble. 

“If we are ever going to stop the murders and the killings and animosity in the streets, we have to change, and it starts here,” Caldwell said. “It's easier for us to go back to them and show them if we can get out, you can get out. If we can change, you can change.”   

Avion’s family says they will remember her for all the positives in her life, but they plan to make sure her life and legacy live on.

“Her life will forever be memorialized for the life she lived and not how she died,” Walton said.

Avion's funeral will be Friday. The family has set up a GoFundMe to help with the funeral costs.