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Grieving parents, children find support at local restaurant

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BATON ROUGE - There was packed house Tuesday at Joe's Grill on West State Street, but these diners all have something in common—every person in the restaurant has lost a loved one to gun violence.

Owner Lakiedra Coleman named the place after her son Joe, who was shot to death this year.

She wanted her son's memory to be more than just another statistic, and she wanted to bring the mothers she knew who were in the same situation as her together to grieve.

"It's not just about Joe. This is about all of us," Coleman said. "It's a lot of parents out there, children out there, that's grieving as hard as we are."

The diners are just a tiny fraction of the consequences of gun violence over the past few years.

Inside, mothers and fathers missing their kids, but also—in a record year for domestic violence—children missing their parents.

"A lot of people tend to forget it's not just the parents, it's the children," said Coleman, who now takes care of her 1-year-old grandson.

The goal of the group is to help each other heal.

"I think it's very encouraging, and it's necessary for a group of mothers to come together and speak on topics and maybe can help others," said Lakisha Chatman, mother of Brandon Chatman, who was killed in 2020.

Coleman is planning more dates for the support group to get together, including putting a float in the Christmas parade.

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