fbpx

Last Updated on September 19, 2022 by BVN

Memories and Reflections….A Family Copes With Loss Due to Gun Violence

The Daniel Dexter Story – Part 3

By Aryana Noroozi

Faye holds a photo of Daniel and his younger sister at her elementary school graduation, hours before his death on June 1, 2022.  Today his sister says she hates graduation and the month of June. (Aryana Noroozi for Black Voice News Newsroom / CatchLight Local) July 29, 2022)

Today, Faye spends most of her time at the hospital or watching her grandchildren, Daniel’s younger siblings, who are turning 9 and 11. Since their mother Lauren Taylor-Mayweather spends her days and nights at the hospital with Daelyn who remains in critical condition, the children moved to Faye’s home and will now attend school in Rialto.  

Hours before Daniel’s death, his younger sister was graduating elementary school and looking forward to starting middle school in Adelanto, but today says she hates graduations and the month of June.

Faye says there is always a brief moment each morning when she wakes up that she thinks this is all a dream. 

Denby Sr. had not been back to the park for over a month. He is receiving support for the post traumatic stress he is experiencing.  

“I kind of always find myself sitting back and thinking what could I have done? I’m finding myself looking at every car that comes out to the park now,” he says.

Alec Fergusson Park (right), where the incident took place, stretches along the Rialto neighborhood where Daniel lived.  (Aryana Noroozi for Black Voice News Newsroom / CatchLight Local) July 18, 2022)

Spending time with his grandchildren and taking up his longtime hobby of bowling helps him feel better. Denby said he didn’t realize the impact of leaving the safety of his home that afternoon until he attended the funeral. 

“I didn’t do anything that I hope somebody else wouldn’t do,” he said.

Denby thought back to his own personal experience with gun violence.

“I lost my niece to murder, somebody shot her. She was only 19. And it reflects back to her, wishing that I was there when it happened,” Denby shared. “But I realized that you can’t be there 24/7. I hope and pray that somebody has the guts to step up and say something, or do something when things happen.”

At Daniel’s funeral service, more than one hundred people stood and applauded Denby after Dr. White, Daniel’s aunt, read a poem about the impact Denby’s act of compassion and bravery meant to the family. 

“A Stranger to Me but No Stranger to God.”

Dear Mr. Denby, you are a stranger to me

A stranger who reached out to my nephew in a time of agony

Most people would have run the other way when they heard gunshots and all

But you stood courageous when you realized two youth had taken a fall

Your kindness and response have brought comfort to our grief 

I didn’t want to imagine our dear Daniel lying there alone you see

We are in so much pain it feels I can’t breathe 

And I just want to say thank you for giving some relief 

My prayers for your family and blessings to come 

To each in your household as you helped someone else’s son

People don’t realize the hurt we do feel

When we couldn’t say goodbye because death is so real

Knowing that you and your son did not hesitate to go 

To see you could help in this time that was low

While you are a stranger to me you are no stranger to God 

Because only a man of faith would make the move on God’s nod

Cards offering condolences are displayed in Faye’s home. (Aryana Noroozi for Black Voice News Newsroom / CatchLight Local) July 29, 2022.

The service also offered a time for loved ones to take the mic and speak about Daniel.  Former teammates, cousins, and friends spoke, each one referencing his kindness and optimism in a different way.  Many prayed for  Daelyn’s recovery.

Daelyn is still in the hospital and has undergone a number of procedures and surgeries.  He will soon be transitioning to a rehabilitation center for traumatic brain injury.

His mother, Taylor-Mayweather, is constantly by his side. Although she can no longer attend nursing school this fall, her education and career path has allowed her to advocate and fight for her son. The family has faith that  Daelyn will recover as his condition stabilizes and he receives hyper-specialized care.

Daniel’s family says they could talk for hours about the person he was, and look at their massive collection of photos and videos of him.  They want him to be honored for the man he was and to counter the narrative portrayed by the media.

Left: Daniel and his mother, Lauren Taylor-Mayweather pose for a photo when he was an infant. (Courtesy of the Dexter Family). Right: Daniel’s mother, Lauren Taylor-Mayweather, poses for a portrait, holding an urn containing Daniel’s ashes. (Aryana Noroozi for Black Voice News Newsroom / CatchLight Local) July 29, 2022

Daniel’s mother remembers him as intelligent and funny with a big heart and a brain built for science. “He was someone I could really have intellectual conversations with. I miss talking to him. Sometimes I look up and I’m like, ‘Daniel what do you think about this?’”

In the final weekend of July, Taylor-Mayweather returned to her mother, Faye’s home after receiving Daniel’s ashes. She took a seat, holding his urn, a football that honored Daniel’s talent.  He was an outstanding linebacker for Silverado High School in Victorville.

Daniel’s mother Lauren Taylor-Mayweather, holds a football shaped urn containing Daniel’s ashes. Football was one of Daniel’s passions and he was an outstanding linebacker and teammate for Silverado High School. (Aryana Noroozi for Black Voice News Newsroom / CatchLight Local) July 29, 2022.

She scrolled through her phone that contained an abundant collection of photos of Daniel.  In one photo, he was helping his great grandmother who in life suffered from dementia.  The brothers used to take care of not only her physical needs, such as lifting her from bed to use the bathroom, but they also took her on drives because she loved the sunshine. 

Daniel’s great grandmother, Faye’s mother, recently passed away, having lived to 93.  “And I just buried my son at 22. He was robbed of that experience, to live a long life,” Taylor-Mayweather said.

Left: Daniel and his great grandmother pose for a photograph at his graduation. As she aged and suffered from dementia, he and  Daelyn cared for her. Right: Daniel helps his younger siblings with arts and crafts in February 2022 (Courtesy of the Dexter Family)

In another photo from February, Daniel kneeled with his younger siblings, working with them on an art project.  His younger brother says Daniel and  Daelyn are his heroes.

“He was the kind of brother that if they called him at 10 p.m. to come play, he would drive the hour to come see them,” Faye said about her grandson. “Except maybe if he had work.”

“Oh no mom, he’d still find a way to go see them.” Taylor-Mayweather said with a laugh. “That’s just who he was.”

Avatar photoAvatar photo

Aryana Noroozi

Black Voice News photojournalist Aryana Noroozi was born in San Diego, California and graduated with a master’s degree from The Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Her love for visual storytelling led her to document immigrant and deportee communities and those struggling with addiction. She was a 2020 Pulitzer Center Crisis Reporting Fellow and a GroundTruth Project Migration Fellow. She is currently a CatchLight/Report for America corps member employed by Black Voice News. You can learn more about her at aryananoroozi.com. You can email her at aryana@blackvoicenews.com. More by Aryana Noroozi

Up Next…

The Daniel Dexter Story – Part 2

Processing Loss With Burden…A Young Life Cut Short By Gun Violence The Daniel Dexter Story Part 2 By Aryana Noroozi Daniel’s aunt, Dr. Judy White, poses for a portrait in her home in Beaumont, California. She says she is leaning on God as she grieves. (Aryana Noroozi for Black Voice News Newsroom / CatchLight Local)…

The Daniel Dexter Story