LEONARDTOWN, Md. – It has been months since Joseph Oakes, 19, was murdered in a drive-by shooting.
His family has started an online petition signed by hundreds calling on the governor and the St. Mary’s County State’s Attorney to enforce stricter laws against gang violence and repeated offenders with violent crimes. Since Oakes’ aunt, Angela Potter, created the petition, it has received over 500 signatures towards its goal of 1,000 signatures.
Oakes was on his way home with his two brothers and two friends when a car of suspects opened fire into the passenger back door, injuring two people and killing Oakes. According to Potter, the suspect that did the shooting was being monitored for other violent crimes involving a firearm.
“The gunman was already on house arrest when he committed another crime with a firearm,” Potter said. “He shot another man, which caused him to be under house arrest.”
The loss deeply scarred the family. They said they miss Joseph’s positive and loving spirit.
“He was like the light of the family. He was the first grandson and first nephew,” Potter said. “It has affected us deeply. He was always the one who was happy. It is like when you walk into a room and Joseph was there, you could feel the love, and you could see the love in his eyes.”
Now, the family is focusing on getting justice for Joseph. They are focusing on stricter laws on repeat violent offenders because they cannot hurt anyone. As a result, it will save more people like Joseph in the future.
“We are looking for stricter laws against already convicted criminals that have violent crimes against them. We feel like if this man would not have been out on house arrest, then maybe he would not have been there that day. He would not have been able to hurt anyone else,” Potter said.
Currently, the family does not know exactly why the suspect killed Joseph since the case is still under investigation. But they plan on making sure the suspects will not get out and hurt anyone else.
“We want justice for Joseph but also the other victims and their families who have suffered loss due to violent crimes,” Potter said in a statement on the petition.
Joseph was a 2020 graduate of Great Mills High School. He worked as a marketing specialist for a construction company.
Joseph had enrolled in college for the spring to pursue his dream of being a computer engineer. He attended Mechanicsville Worship Center and was a big part of the community, according to his mom.
“Joe was a great asset to his community and peers,” Latoya Mason, Joseph’s mother, said. “He is missed, and as a family, this has been devastating and traumatizing on myself and his brothers who had to watch him die.”
To find out more or sign the petition, click here.
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