It’s a club no family member wishes to be a part of. After losing her son and grandson to gun violence, Bishop Michelle Patty says her own pain inspired her advocacy for other grieving families.
“I was obsessed with finding the killer,” said Patty, whose son Byron Patty Sr. died in 1995.
Patty visits Tampa’s Orange Hill Cemetery once a month to visit her son’s and grandson Byron Patty Junior’s graves.
Both were killed by gun violence – 16 years apart.
“The grandson was 8 months when his father was murdered,” said Patty.
Her grandson was 17 years old when his life was cut short in 2010.
“We just had a parole hearing for the one who killed Byron Sr.,” she adds.
Patty says tracking down those responsible for her son’s robbery and murder took years, but she never gave up.
“Nobody was talking,” she recalls. “The guys was in the room wouldn’t tell who the person was and till this day they never told. We were able to raise the reward and get the information and bring the guy to justice.”
Her own turmoil has inspired her advocacy work for grieving families.
“If our young men are dead and these two men are in prison for life how do we move the next generation forward,” said Patty.
She has a weekly radio talk show on AM 1150 WTMP where she encourages the community to speak up for those who can’t.
Her show played a pivotal role following the shooting death of 4-year-old Suni Bell. She encouraged listeners to contact police with any leads they had.
“Every Saturday morning I spoke about that on my airways,” she added.
Patty also uses the platform to encourage dialogue between the community and its leaders. Her guest Saturday was Tampa’s new Police Chief Mary O’Connor.
She’s glad dialogue is happening between police and the community, but Patty encourages more action with youth intervention programs.
The Tampa Police Department has been hosting forums to collaborate with the community on ways to stop the violence.
During a recent meeting in Sulphur Springs, police said gun violence went down by 12% within the last five months.
According to then-Interim Police Chief Ruben Delgado January 2022 reports show 15 fewer shootings than January last year.