4-year-old shoots himself in the head, becomes fifth member of Oakland family to fall victim to gun violence
On March 27, four-year-old Na'vaun Jackson was at the home of a family friend. What was another slow Wednesday afternoon quickly turned tragic when Na'vaun found a pistol unlocked and loaded under a pillow in the house. Not knowing better, he picked it up and accidentally shot himself in the head.
While Na'vaun is just one of an estimated 116,000-odd people who are victims of gun violence in the US every year, his story is all the more eye-opening because it looked like he was set to become the fifth member of his family to have incurred gunfire injury. While he was lucky to have survived the incident, the other four were not so lucky.
The four-year-old was rushed to a nearby hospital and admitted to an intensive care unit, where he has been fighting for his life ever since, though his condition has taken a turn for the better in recent weeks.
For the first few weeks after the incident, Na'vaun showed no signs of activity and was placed into a medically-induced coma. The family had to wait anxiously to see if he would respond once his medications wore off and were hoping for a Hail Mary.
In a series of Facebook updates, Na'vaun's grandfather, Ramon Price, has indicated that the worst is over and that his grandson is on his way to recovery. But despite Na'vaun surviving what was thought to be almost certainly a fatal injury, he has still suffered permanent, irreversible brain damage.
The family still has a hard time talking about almost losing someone so young, especially because it's a story they are all too familiar with. Nathan Jackson, Na'vaun's father, has lost three siblings to gun violence.
The first, 18-year-old Nario Jackson, was shot and killed in 2010 in West Oakland by suspected gang member Nicholas Harris. According to Mercury News, Harris, who was 17 at the time, used a 9 mm semi-automatic handgun to kill the teenager in a bid to "gain stature within his gang." He was subsequently found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to 100 years to life in pri
Less than a year later 16-year-old Najon Jackson was shot and killed outside his grandmother's home in East Oakland on the same day his father was celebrating his 40th birthday. He was set to start his junior year that coming fall when he was murdered, with grieving family members shellshocked at losing another loved one to gun violence.
Then, last year, in July, 21-year-old Ellesse McFee was fatally shot at 73rd and Bancroft avenues in East Oakland. While Ellesse did have problems with the law — he was arrested and charged in 2017 for a robbing two women and resisting a peace officer — his death did not hurt any less.
Nathan himself is no stranger to run-ins with the authorities. In fact, he is currently locked up in Salinas Valley State Prison serving a nine-year sentence for assault with a firearm as a second striker. An emotional plea to Governor Gavin Newsom to let him out to see his injured son in the hospital fell on deaf ears.
Brijjanna Price, Na'vaun's mother, has also lost a loved one to gun violence. Her brother Lamont Deshawn Price was just 17-years-old when he was shot four times and killed on 81st and Birch in 2012 by "someone he knew."
And while so many of a family being at the end of gun violence is somewhat of an anomaly, Na'vaun's injuries were entirely preventable. It's also likely to hurt the most considering he was in the care of a friend they knew and trusted at the time of the shooting.
Terrence Wilson was reportedly playing video games in the living room of his home when Na'vaun found his gun, which he was barred from owning because of a history of prior felony convictions. Furthermore, court documents state Wilson was familiar with trigger locks for firearms which could have prevented the shooting but that he did not use them on his gun because he had lost the keys.
Wilson was arrested and charged with child abuse, possession of a firearm by a felon and a first-degree count of criminal firearm storage. Brijjanna refused to pin the blame on Wilson and insisted all they could do was move forward and pray that her son gets better, and Ramon similarly felt it was high time that the city addresses the root of the problem: a lack of education.
Speaking to CNN, Ramon, who works as a pastor and an employee at a funeral home, said he sees young shooting victims every day and that it's just "what happens when you live in Oakland," adding that "families are being shattered."
"We need to have more preventive measures, (people should know) how to properly store guns and keep guns and the importance of having a gun," he insisted. "Guns are supposed to be used for protection and if you think you need a loaded gun in your house, then there's something wrong."
Studies have shown that less than one percent of the city's population is associated with two-thirds of gun violence, though 'Operation Ceasefire,' a six-year-old strategy to reduce group-related gun violence, has resulted in a 32 percent reduction in gun homicides and a 43 percent decrease in gang-involved shootings.
Patch cited research from Northeastern, Northwestern and Rutgers universities found that since its launch in 2012 — when Oakland's homicide rate of 31.8 deaths per 100,000 people was seven times higher than the national homicide rate of 4.7 per 100,000 — Operation Ceasefire has reduced the combined total of fatal and non-fatal shootings in Oakland by 52 percent.