Winter Parker is a 2017 graduate of Loris High School who began studying at Coastal Carolina College majoring in Athletic Training with a double major in Psychology. All things were looking up for this 19 year old with ambitions and dreams.
The dreams remain, however, delayed because of one fateful night in late April of this year when she and her boyfriend, Charles “Bo” Durant II, heard gunfire as they headed back to Bo’s parents home for dinner. Parker said, “Bo forgot his wallet at home, we were going to a movie.” She stated that he called his mother letting her know they will be returning to get the wallet and she insisted that they come for dinner.
Surprised at the fact that she saw her boyfriend dead from a gunshot wound, she ran to a nearby home to get help. At that point she had not realized that she had been shot three times. Parker had two shots to the back and one directly in her left elbow. She thought she was dying and begged the first responder on scene to put her in his police cruiser and take her to the hospital.
Officer Gause, a new hire this year at the Loris Police Department, was the first officer on the scene. With a shattered elbow and losing a mass amount of blood, the ambulance arrived with the EMT’s immediately following procedure and rushed her to the McLeod Loris Hospital. She was transferred to Grand Strand Regional Medical Center in Myrtle Beach where they took her into surgery not knowing if she would survive due to the blood loss.
Parker spent a month in the hospital having multiple surgeries. One bullet came close to her spine and punctured her lung. The second bullet remains lodged behind the liver. The third bullet shattered her elbow which she has had multiple surgeries to repair the damage. When she would ask about Bo, her family felt it would be better for Parker not to know he had succumbed to the gunshot wound.
During her stay in the hospital she had a dream. She said, “Bo came to me and said ‘I love you’, I’m not here anymore.” She said that is when she realized he was gone. She spoke with her mother about her dream and it was confirmed that he had died.
Through the grief of losing a long time boyfriend and dealing with the fact that she had been shot and survived, she began to think, “I want to make a difference and bring awareness to gun violence,” she said, “and that is when the name of this group came to me, Walk Against Guns (W.A.G.).”
Parker pointed out that there has been so much gun violence especially with young people who have easy access to guns; she wants to give a voice to the families of victims and prevent the needless loss to gunfire.
During her stay in the hospital she planned the program and solicited the help of others who have experienced the loss of a child. Two mothers came to her mind, Veronica Thompson, who has mourned her son Levi Moody since November 2016, and Tiffiny Prince, who lost her son Spencer in July 2017, both to senseless gun violence.
Parker addressed and sought solutions to the violence in Loris and surrounding areas. She formed a walk through Loris in October of this year at the Kingston Education Center. Parker addressed her plan with Loris Police Chief Gary Buley asking the help of the LPD to make the walk a successfully peaceful journey to bring awareness to the city of the violence that affects us all.
Buley was onboard and offered the services of the officers to close the roads; he joined them in the walk. Buley said he felt it was for a good cause with willingness to help those who want to improve the community efforts to stop the violence.
Thompson spoke of her loss and how it has affected her life and the lives of her family and friends after Moody was killed. Others spoke about their family losses, their yearning to end the violence and stop allowing guns to be used to resolve the problems; Parker said, “Guns do not solve problems they cause more, not only suffering the consequences of a split decision to pull out a gun and shoot, but to know that they took a life away from a family, and that is permanent.”
Parker said she has placed her education on hold until she is able to heal from her surgeries and able to focus again. Right now she is focusing on the fact that it only takes one person to make a bad decision and doesn’t understand why the young people in our community feel that a gun is a statement of how tough they really are. Now she does not stand alone. She has a group who is willing to help her to make a difference to stop the violence.
To end on a happier note, Parker shared a story about Bo that she felt was worth hearing. “Bo called his truck Willis, I wanted to drive it so badly;” she said, “I’m not a good driver and when I got into the drivers seat the brakes were not good and I rolled it into a ditch.” He would pretend to be upset, but ended up laughing and sharing the story with his mom.
Parker is young, she is intelligent and she cares about our community, she is one voice joined by others who want to make a bigger difference to end the gun violence on our streets. She never said, “Why me”; Parker stated, “God had me go through this knowing I can make a difference.”
She has not set up a Facebook page for the cause, but is available on Facebook educating others about the senselessness of using a gun to solve a problem.