ITEM FILE PHOTO
Muriel Clement enters Zion Baptist Church for a remembrance ceremony April 19.
By THOMAS GRILLO
LYNN — The mother of a shooting victim wants an apology from Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy.
The mayor recently said the recent rash of violence in the city was committed by people who knew each other.
“Her comment was so hurtful,” said Muriel Clement. “My son has never been arrested or involved in gangs or drugs; he has always been an outstanding citizen. He was sheltered and protected by his family and his church community; he didn’t know the person who pulled the trigger.”
Lenardo “Lenny” Clement, 46, was fatally shot Easter Sunday on Exchange Street. His friend, Prince Belin, 41, was struck by bullets moments later.
The two men and Belin’s fiancee were walking downtown following services at the Zion Baptist Church when they were approached by a man driving a Chrysler. The alleged shooter, later identified by police as William A. Cash, had stopped in the crosswalk and threatened them before shots rang out. Belin is recovering from bullet wounds. Police are still hunting for Cash.
In an interview with The Item about the five homicides so far this year — there were four in all of 2016 — Kennedy said, “It’s been terrible, but these are not random acts of violence … people in our community should not worry about their safety because these victims and perpetrators are known to one another.”
Davin Clement, Lenny’s brother, said the mayor has yet to reach out to the family to offer condolences or apologize for her remarks.
The Clements say the controversy has been a distraction from letting people know who Lenny was.
“My brother never saw the bad in people,” Davin Clement said. “He took people in even when I didn’t agree with the people he let into his life.”
Blind since the age of 2, Lenny was not supposed to live, his doctors told the family.
“But he continued to grow, got stronger, confident and more hopeful about the future,” Muriel Clement said. “Len truly was a miracle child.”
Trevor Clement, Lenny’s father, said he’s brokenhearted over the loss of his son.
“I will miss his love,” he said.
Muriel Clement said despite his lack of vision, Lenny managed to roller skate and ride his bike all over Lynn.
“He fought against his many challenges and obstacles and finally reached an independent place,” she said. “And on Easter, it was all taken away from him.”
Kennedy stood behind her words that the violence was not random.
“I wanted to reassure the public that the city of Lynn is safe; this is not some random criminal going around,” she said. “I have written a letter to Muriel and we are reaching out to get an appointment to see the family.”
The family has launched a $20,000 GoFundMe campaign to help pay for Lenny’s final arrangements. So far, the effort has raised $900. To donate go to: https://www.gofundme.com/clementvictimfund.
Thomas Grillo can be reached at email@example.com.