SAN DIEGO — Sandy and Lonnie Phillips tragically lost their daughter when a gunman opened fire inside a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado ten years ago, killing twelve people.
The mass shooting is the deadliest since the 1999 Columbine High School massacre, where 15 were fatally shot.
“She said mom go back to bed, get some sleep,” Sandy Phillips said. “I’m really looking forward to seeing you next week. I need my mama, I texted back I need by baby girl – that was the last time we spoke.”
In front of nearly two dozen people, Sandy recalled the night she lost her daughter, Jessica Redfield Ghawi.
“15 minutes later, my phone rang, her friend was telling me that she was dead, dead? My baby girl? Dead? And I let out a wail that sounded more like an animal and my husband appeared to the bedroom as I was crumbling to the floor,” Sandy Phillips said.
On Saturday, Sandy and her husband Lonnie Phillips kicked off their “Honor with Action Tour” in San Diego.
“That was the moment when it became clear to both of us, that our new normal was to make sure Jessie’s story was kept alive,” Lonnie Phillips said.
The 10,000-mile call to action to empower survivors, educate lawmakers, gather people to get involved and build groups like San Diegan for Gun Violence Gun Prevention.
“We have states that are doing really really good work, but from a national level there has not been one good gun law bill passed in over 25 years,” Sandy said.
The couple will be going to 22 states and 22 cities, calling up those affected by gun violence. Maria Gaspar Casillas, the aunt of 12-year-old Angel Gaspar Gallegos killed by a stray bullet while playing on Thanksgiving night, will share the family’s heartbreaking story.
“It takes a village to raise a child, now let’s rise together for our children,” Gaspar said.
In collaboration with University of California, San Diego, the Phillips have been able to create a mindfulness class for gun violence survivors. The eight-week course will start on March 11. Enrollment for the class ends March 1. Those who want to participate do not need to be a student with UCSD.