Carytown man warns locals of celebratory gunfire on July Fourth – Remember Brendon Mackey

by | Jul 3, 2015 | POLITICS

Jonathan Romans, a 25-year-resident of Richmond, stood on the western-edge of Carytown holding a sign and spreading a message.

Jonathan Romans, a 25-year-resident of Richmond, stood on the western-edge of Carytown holding a sign and spreading a message. He wants folks around the city to remember the death of a 7-year-old boy, and the tragic and avoidable circumstances in which it happened.

Back on July 4th, 2013, young Brendon Mackey and his father were leaving a store off Midlothian Turnpike. As fireworks started to go off, the father and son stood to enjoy the show. Out of nowhere, Brendon fell to the ground and his father was unable to resuscitate him.

Sure enough, the child was hit by a stray bullet and died from the injury which police believe came from celebratory gunfire.

“Addressing gun violence is something that’s important to me,” said Roman who stood baking under the Virginia summer sun. His sign asked folks to remember Brendon before unloading rounds in honor of Independence Day.

No one was ever charged in the crime, but in April of last year, Chesterfield PD said they had a new lead:

“Its a polarizing issue, but celebratory gun violence is reckless, irresponsible, and illegal, it’s something I feel comfortable going out in public and dissuading people from doing,” he said.

About a year after Brendon’s death, the Virginia GA passed Brendon’s Law which made celebratory gunfire in which a person is wounded a Class 6 felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.

This is the second year Romans has come out spreading his message, and he said he’s always gotten a positive response from those passing by. As I spoke with him, honks and thumbs up were frequent from cars sitting in Carytown traffic.

“There’s no reason, not mater how ardent you are about your gun rights, that you wouldn’t be against this,” Romans said.

He said he doesn’t have much of a direct connection to gun violence or the Mackey family, but a friend of his who lives close to the Mackey household said she still hears guns going off on holidays.

“I can’t imagine what they must be thinking hearing that,” he said. “For me, its an important message to keep reinforcing.”

Romans has spoken out against gun violence before, calling himself a gun violence prevention advocate. He’s went before the VA General Assembly in the past to support new gun laws, and he traces his interest in the cause to December, 2012 when the Newtown shooting lead to the deaths of 20 children.

“That day changed my life. I wasn’t right for about a month,” he said. “As far as I can remember back, Columbine, the Virginia Tech massacre – gun violence has followed me my whole life and when [Newtown] happened I realized I had enough and it was something I had to do something about.”

Enjoy your Fourth folks, but remember to leave your guns inside.

Brad Kutner

Brad Kutner

Brad Kutner is the former editor of GayRVA and RVAMag from 2013 - 2017. He’s now the Richmond Bureau Chief for Radio IQ, a state-wide NPR outlet based in Roanoke. You can reach him at

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