Grandmother of murdered 3-year-old to build ‘Wall of Love’ to remember loved ones killed by gun violence

BATON ROUGE – Gun violence continues to terrorize certain parts of the area, so much so that some people become numb to it, and those lost to the violence are forgotten.

Cathy Toliver knows the terrible feeling of losing a loved one to gun violence all too well. Last year, her 3-year-old grandson Devin Page Jr. was asleep in his bed when a bullet came through the home window and shot the child in the head. The 3-year-old died on the scene. The stray bullet was meant for the next-door neighbor.

Devin Page Jr.

After her grandson’s death, Toliver has been on a mission to help families heal and make sure their loved ones are never forgotten.

Toliver is working with the city-parish to build several memorials called “City Wall of Love.” They will be about four feet tall and placed throughout the city.

The goal is to display pictures of those killed by guns so everyone driving by can see their faces. On Friday, she held a ceremony at the corner of Fairfield and Foster Drive.

A portable wall is expected to be made. The wall wasn’t finished Friday so the blueprints for the wall were presented. The event brought families together of those who will be on the wall.

“Passion is what’s in my heart and what I feel,” Toliver said. “I’m driven to make a difference in this community. Before I started doing this, I was getting ready to retire from working in the community and doing all of this stuff, but when this happened to my grandson, I was called back on the battlefield to get back in the fight. There’s no retiring from this until I take my last breath.”

Part of Toliver’s mission involved supporting legislation that she felt could’ve saved her grandson’s life.

House Bill 606, authored by Rep. Edmond Jordan, was inspired by Page. Toliver said her daughter attempted to get out of her lease and get to a safer place but was denied.

The amended bill proposed that a rental tenant has the right to terminate a lease if two or more violent crimes or drug offenses have been reported with documented police reports in six months. Plus, the termination would not be reported to a credit bureau if the tenant paid the rent owed for the remaining lease term.

The proposed law stated that a tenant could receive early termination if they put in writing that two or more violent crimes or drug offenses occurred on the adjacent property, provide documentation that the crimes happened, and fulfill all requirements under the lease.

It failed in the House in May.

“I will continue to fight for people who are in the situation my daughter was in,” Toliver said. “We will go back to the Capitol again and seek justice, trying to help on a broader scale for people in dangerous situations, who are living on rental properties, and give them an out of some kind. He (homeowner) didn’t offer my daughter anything. The owners of the house she was in just let her stay there until her baby was killed.”

The number of homicides in East Baton Rouge Parish has dipped in the last two years. It was 170 in 2021 and 135 in 2022. As of Dec. 18, there were 100 homicides, according to the East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner’s Office.

Toliver said the wall is essential not only to the victims’ loved ones but to everyone.

“It could be you,” Toliver said. “That’s why this is so important. We had no idea that we would be in these shoes. It could be you, so look in the mirror. This wall and the walls we’re going to have up tell our community to look in the mirror. My grandbaby was sleeping in the bed, and a bullet came in. We had to put on another pair of shoes that changed our lives. It could be you. That’s the message I want to get across to people. You just don’t know what’s going to happen from day to day. These walls will be a reminder.”

“I want this project to bring healing to the community,” she added. “My purpose is to put a face to the bullet. Every bullet that was fired, I want a face to it. When you do that, you’re saying I can see that it wasn’t just Billy on 48th Street or Bobby 23rd Street. We forgot about it. No, this bullet that I fired killed somebody, and here’s the face of the person I killed.”

Anyone who wants to donate to the Wall of Love should call Toliver at 225-650-1685 or email her at Cathymckinleytoliver1962@gmail.com.

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