HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - A local woman sets up yard decorations for most major holidays. As you drive by this upcoming month, it may just look like she loves, love. If you take a closer look, though, there's a deeper message.
Donna Howell is getting her yard geared up for Valentine's Day. Outside, she has a giant heart filled with photos of young homicide victims.
While the upcoming holiday is day focused primarily on love and the love we share for others, Howell said gun violence in our community shattered her heart years ago.
Howell said she was driven to create the displays after her teenage son, Larry Flaccamio, was gunned down. His murder remains unsolved.
"It's a message to wake up," explained Howell. "We're always in the top 10 most dangerous states to live in, for the last few years. I don't want to be there."
She hopes her decorations ignite change.
"When you first lose a loved one to a violent crime, you're on a roller coaster," Howell continued. "Some days you're angry, some days you just can't function. Other days, you just want revenge."
Howell said she's watched some of the families receive justice for their children, but she said often times it just isn't enough.
"Going into these court rooms and that verdict is passed, 'guilty'. When that judge puts the gavel down on the bench, that's not what these parents are hearing," Howell said. "They're hearing the gunshot that took their child's life."
The grieving mother has formed a community support group for other grieving families. Her son, who was the catalyst for her activism, has been gone for 4 years as of December 30.