One year later, still no justice for slain Tacoma teen
TACOMA, Wash. -- On a park bench, on the cusp of an anniversary, a mother knows not what next week will hold.
"I keep wondering: How is Monday going to feel?" asked Shalisa Hayes. "Am I going to crumble when that day comes?"
Monday will mark one year since her son was taken from her - one year when 17-year old Billy Ray Shirley should be marking the end of high school, thinking about a future, and investing in his Tacoma neighborhood, where he spent endless hours volunteering.
Instead, in that year, the person who gunned him down at a Tacoma party has walked free; free from justice, free from jail. His murder - along with a second one that police have tied to a motorcycle gang - remains unsolved.
"I don't spend a lot of time thinking about it, nor do I find myself getting angry about it," Hayes said about her son's unsolved murder. "Whether it's in a courtroom or in that person's bedroom, they're suffering some sort of way. Their judgment day will come."
While judgment has been elusive, joy, however, has not. Since Shirley's death, dozens of teens have been carrying out his vision, cleaning up parks, donating turkeys to needy families on Thanksgiving and raising thousands of dollars to help build a community center. They've also helped establish a foundation in .
"I can't save the world, and I don't have the answers to everything, but if I can do something to help (the kids) with their future and just making better choices, that's what I'm going to do," Hayes said.
Their mission continues on Saturday with the 1st Annual Kids Day at Lister Elementary School. The free event - which will include games, food, and fun - is a way to honor Shirley while raising money for his foundation, Hayes said.
"I think Tacoma (has seen) something beautiful," Hayes added. "What happened to Billy Ray is not unique, but what's beautiful about it is the kids that are developing certain things from it. His death has shared a light on something that has already been there."
"It's just now we sit back and ask: how long do we have to wait?" she said.