(WKBN) — In this segment of our In-Depth interview, WKBN’s Community Affairs Director Dee Crawford will look at the impact gun violence has on family members left behind.
Someone shot and killed Armani Wainwright just over a year ago. She was a single mother of three children.
The murder happened off Southern Boulevard on Youngstown’s South Side on Aug. 29, 2021. Wainwright’s body was hit with several bullets. The case remains unsolved.
But now, Wainwright’s family is raising her children and they’re also trying to find peace.
Wainwright’s grandfather, Wayne Thigpen, is the patriarch of a family that has experienced trauma to a heightened degree. He spoke about the day Wainwright was murdered.
“Well, Armani called me every day and let me know that she was okay, and she had called me that Saturday and I was kind of busy and I just said, you know, all she said is, ‘What are you doing?’ And I said, ‘Oh, I’m busy. Oh, I love you.’ And she hung up, and then the next morning, my daughter called me and she was kind of upset. But she said, ‘Dad, have you heard from Armani?’ And I said, ‘Well nah, she ain’t call me yet.’ And I hung up the phone, and about five minutes later, I got a call from a mutual friend telling me that my granddaughter had gotten murdered and I said, ‘Are you sure it was my grandaughter?’ She said, ‘Yes, I’m sure. I have her hat here,’ and I had to come home, come and break the news,” said Thigpen. “I called my daughter and told her and this is when everything went to pieces.”
For many in the African-American community, especially those dealing with tragedies and murders, and given the number of homicides in our community and no insurance, how was Thigpen able to provide a dignified memorial service and a funeral for Wainwright?
“Well, by God’s grace and mercy, I went to a mutual friend, Ms. Jenny Mason, at Mason’s funeral home, and she gave me a payment plan, and I took my check. Armani got killed on the 29th of August, and she got her check on the first of September, and I took my social security check and put it together, and I just deferred all of my bill collectors for one month, and I gave Mason the down payment. Her funeral was almost $4,000. But to God’s grace and mercy, I had a few family members who chipped in and helped me out. I won’t mention any names, you know, but I had two or three family members chip in and a few people from the fellowship,” said Thigpen.
Wainwright’s murder impacted four generations of Thigpen’s family and they have still not gotten any closure. Thigpen still financially struggles because his daughter, Mary, has custody and that means dealing with the human services system.
“I had to call my oldest granddaughter from Akron. She quit her job and came down here and got a job to help her mom out with the kids, you know, and she [is] my oldest granddaughter, you know, she’s quite a big help,” said Thigpen.
Thursday, Crawford will continue the conversation with Thigpen and talk about the impact of Wainwright’s murder, not just on the adults, but her three children the family is now raising.