The Fresno Bee, Fresno, CA – The mother of a 9-year-old girl killed by a stray bullet fired in a gang shootout said she forgives the men responsible and hopes “they can find peace in their hearts.”
Stacey Gonzales and her daughter, Janessa Ramirez, were chatting with friends in front of a Laundromat on Jan. 18 when Janessa was hit by the stray bullet and soon after died at a local hospital. Brian Cooks, 22, and Isaac Stafford, 19, were arrested and charged with murder less than two weeks later. It was Gonzales’ forgiveness that broke the case open.
“When our detectives told Brian Cooks, ‘Janessa’s mother has forgiven you,’ he broke,” according to Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer. “And then he began to tell the truth (about firing the fatal shot). Forgiveness is powerful.”
Gonzalez told reporters, “I forgive them, and I love them, and I hope they find the Lord … Because now I have my full peace. My baby is in a better place.”
To explain her actions, Gonzalez added, “Think of Janessa. She wouldn’t want people fighting and being mean to each other. Learn to forgive, but don’t forget Janessa.”