Family turns birthday for slain Knoxville man into free picnic

This summer, community members are rallying behind families of loved ones who have died in the last year.
This summer, community members are rallying behind families of loved ones who have died in the last year.
Published: May. 24, 2023 at 11:39 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - May 24 would’ve been Brian Dickey’s brother-in-law’s 41st birthday. Instead, it was a day to remember his death and raise awareness around gun violence in Knoxville.

Demetrius Bomar was shot and killed on Lay Avenue back in December, and his family still grieves his death.

“It’s an ongoing process, rebuilding yourself and rebuilding your family,” Dickey said. “He was always the life of the party.”

Dickey told WVLT News he was fed up with the violence in his community and is calling on stricter gun control laws, even as a gun carrier himself.

So his business, Friends BBQ, sponsored a Stop the Violence picnic at Harriet Tubman Park as his way to celebrate the lives still here.

Meanwhile, two Knox Elite security guards, who were working the event, are getting ready for their 5th annual memorial car ride on Tuesday between 12:00 p.m. to 1 p.m. on Memorial Day.

They are meeting at the Ashley Nicole Park where the group will also host a balloon and dove release before the car ride at 2 p.m. This year, the group is honoring two dozen lives lost in the last year. They said it’s personal.

“Back in 2009, I saw one of my friends get killed on the porch and due to that, we collectively came together with the car ride so the community can come out and support the different families,” Tawaud Mattress said.

They said the pain of losing a loved one never fades.

“I just have to take it day by day, and he’s got to live deep down it still hurts,” Undra Smith said.

On Wednesday, WVLT News also learned recent shootings play a role in MEDIC regional critical and low inventory levels.

According to Director of Communications and PR Kristy Altman, for the last eight to 12 weeks, they’ve had a steady need for O-type blood, which is needed for a number of trauma surgeries related to vehicle crashes and recent shootings.

The high demand can drain their already low supply.

”Three to four years ago, there was a shooting locally and immediately went through 20 units right at the hospital... when you think of 20 units, that’s a whole lot that comes out of an inventory,” Altman said.

Dickey plans to host more free picnics with community support.