Flagstaff mother of son killed in shooting speaks against gun violence

“They just destroyed two families”
A teen was shot in killed in March in Flagstaff and now his mother is hoping to use his death to spark change against gun violence.
Published: Sep. 18, 2023 at 5:49 PM MST
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FLAGSTAFF, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) — An 18-year-old from Flagstaff was shot and killed this past March and the 18-year-old suspect was arrested for second-degree murder shortly after. Now, the mother of the teenager killed is speaking against gun violence to honor her son.

Nicole Vazquez describes her son Isaiah Joseph Ezekiel Avila as caring, dedicated, and, more than anything, a family man. “He liked spending time with his kids. He was so happy to be a dad,” she said.

But Avila never got to be a dad. On March 12, he was shot and killed while picking up a friend. His girlfriend, then seven months pregnant, was there by his side as he took his last breath. “It hurts a lot, too. He never got to meet his son and my grandson is never going to know his dad,” Vazquez said. Eighteen-year-old Omar Tafoya Hernandez was arrested and charged in the case shortly after, according to Flagstaff police. He is still awaiting trial.

Vazquez said she was angry at first but now she said she hurts for Hernandez’ family too. “I believe there’s two kids that lost their lives. My son lost his life and so did the other boy and destroyed two families,” Vazquez said.

Gun violence is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. The CDC reports more teens have died of gun violence this year than anything else. Vazquez hopes her kid’s life and death become more than a statistic.

That’s why she soon hopes to speak in local schools and teach kids and teens about the dangers of gun violence. And hopefully, prevent other parents from ever feeling her pain. “It’s not worth it. They just destroyed two families. Two boys lost their lives and my grandson. He’s proof that this is real and it needs to stop,” said Vazquez.

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