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Mother, son talk about recent gun violence affecting young people

Shay Banks and her son Ivra McCory were friends with Javonti McCray, a 19-year-old who was shot and killed earlier this month in south Toledo.

TOLEDO, Ohio — Toledo residents are trying to make sense of the gun violence this year and the toll it's taking on families.

One scene after another we've seen families torn apart by the loss of a son, a mother, a father, or a friend. Ivra McCory was best friends with 19-year-old Javonti McCray, who was gunned down almost two weeks ago in south Toledo.

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McCory says what's troubling is these shootings have somehow become both outrageous and a normal part of life.

"Kids don't feel motivated enough," McCory said, "part of it is the safety and environment with all of the stuff going on."

Poverty and lack of opportunity are what McCory believes have been weighing down many families for years. The 18-year old has grown up in the inner city of Toledo and says kids his age can't see past what they're doing right now.

"There's not many things that we feel safe to do anymore," he added.

He was best friends with McCray who was shot and killed on Nov. 14. He says McCray had a good soul and always looked out for him, even protecting him. He wanted better for himself like so many others. But this violence is causing young people like McCory to take flight and leave.

"I see a change in myself," McCory said. "It's part of the reason I want to get out of Toledo and go to a different city and get away from the violence."

Ivra's mother, Shay Bankston, says as a parent "it's terrifying." She is a licensed social worker and mentors young people at Grace Community Center. She says because of environmental trauma from violence, poverty, health issues, and more, kids are in a survival mode, just trying to get through each day and can't see a future where they're out of this.

So she tries to teach them their worth and what they're capable of in the future.

"We want to see as many young people be successful as possible," Bankston added, "so to build them up and challenge all of the ideas and stereotypes that they receive from living in an environment that says you're not worth that much."

Bankston says kids need more role models to lead them to good opportunities. And she believes there are plenty of them in the inner city who can step up.

And McCory says his friend McCray wanted more for himself and to do better but it didn't turn out that way. He says he hopes people start to value each other's lives more, so others are not lost too early to senseless violence. 

If you have any information that may help police solve McCray's homicide, you're asked to call Crime Stoppers at 419-255-1111. You may be eligible for a reward and can remain anonymous.

RELATED: Toledoans take a stand against gun violence with annual Thanksgiving charity flag football game in support of victims' families