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Losing my son- Debra’s story-by Jameca Patrick-Singleton

Pictured: Alvin Hicks Jr. in his younger years. Photos courtesy of Debra Wood.

Written by Jameca Patrick-Singleton

Violent crime is something that no community ever wants to experience, yet Flint has dealt with the blowback of violent criminal activity for years. In this three-part series the Flint Courier will explore the aftermath of violent crime and what Flint families are doing to move forward.

April 20, 2021 started like any spring day for Flint resident Debra Wood. Like many parents dealing with the pandemic, she helped her kids sign onto their computers for online school, and then she sat at her own computer to begin a staff meeting over Zoom with her co-workers. Around 10 a.m., her 16–year-old son, Alvin Hicks Jr., who she called Al for short, asked if he could go pick up a friend. She quickly reminded him that he needed to hurry back home so that he could help his cousin with his math homework, who was also being raised by Wood.

“Al was really smart in math” Wood said. “He would always help my nephew with his math work”.

After assuring her that he would return home shortly, Hicks walked out of the door and Wood never saw her son alive again.

Approximately 30 minutes later, while still in her staff meeting, Wood got a call from her son’s friend, who was a passenger in the car that he was driving. He told her that while driving down the street someone from another vehicle opened fire on the car Hicks was driving and Hicks had been shot. He told her that he thought that her son would be OK because he was talking to him while they waited for paramedics to respond.

Wood quickly went to the hospital where she was required to show staff a picture of her son from her phone. She stated that she was then placed in a room where, shortly thereafter, she was told that the doctors had done everything that they could, but in the end her son had died.

According to the City of Flint Police Department crime stats, murder in the city increased from 56 murders in 2020, to 59 murders in 2021, which is a steep increase from the 39 murders reported in 2019. In March of this year, city officials announced that they are preparing to put measures in place to hopefully decrease violent crime this upcoming summer.

As for Wood, she said her son’s murder has changed life forever for herself, her four daughters and her nephew, who she has raised.

Alvin Hicks Jr., supports his mother, Debra Wood, who graduated from Baker College.

“We were all so close,” she expressed. “We ate Sunday dinner together; we spent birthdays together; we had game nights. I will never be the same. I am broken. There are many days where my other kids are just crying, and there is nothing that I can say to help them deal with it-nothing that I can do. I lost another son when he was a baby, but to lose a child to murder is a different kind of pain. It’s unexplainable”

Wood wants her son to be remembered as a kid who loved his family and friends and who had an infectious smile.

Salea Silver spends time with her big brother Alvin Hicks Jr., who was a victim of a violent crime.

“People loved my son. So many people have reached out to me and are still reaching out, including his dentist, teachers, family and friends. Al would’ve graduated high school this year, and his school has granted him his diploma posthumously.”

It’s acts of kindness like that that get Wood through the rough days.

Though this year has been difficult for Wood, she has a message for youth in the community.

“To the youth, I would say, don’t put another mother through this. This is hard. My son was a good kid, and he was shot while driving down the street. Please put the guns down”.

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