FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - Protesters gathered in downtown Fort Lauderdale to call for change at the court level after a 4-year-old boy was killed by his father.
Greyson Kessler’s mother and other family members were among the protesters outside the Broward County courthouse on Thursday morning.
“Justice for Greyson!” the demonstrators chanted.
The group demanded change within the court system to protect young children from domestic abuse.
Police said Greyson was shot and killed by his father before 47-year-old John Stacey turned the gun on himself, May 21.
“I’m in shock, and my daughter is still in shock,” said Ronni Kessler, the boy’s grandmother. “It’s still very hard to process this.”
Officials said Stacey had repeatedly threatened the 4-year-old’s mother with violence.
Ronni said someone should have noticed the warning signs.
“All the way around, everybody failed us, from the police, child victim services, the court system. Nobody paid attention,” said Ronni.
Greyson’s mother, Ali Kessler, said she thought something was wrong when Stacey stopped answering his phone.
Ali had filed an Order of Protection against Stacey when her son missed school. She went to the police several times.
Officers found Stacey and Greyson dead inside his apartment in downtown Fort Lauderdale.
“It’s just devastating. It devastated a whole community,” said Jeremy Katzman, whose son went to school with Greyson, “and our whole class is grieving, and we need to find a way to carry on Greyson’s memory and find a solution to end domestic violence and fix mental health and fix the legal system, so other families don’t ever have to experience this trauma, and I think that will help Greyson live on.”
Investigators said Ali had received multiple texts from Stacey saying she deserved to die.
A judge denied the request citing a lack of facts.
“Why do all these judges and police officers say, ‘Well, just because that father had threatened to kill the mother or threatened to harm that mother, it doesn’t mean they’re going to harm the child?'” said Jessica Tempkin. “That’s not true. An abuser is an abuser, and if you’re abusing the mother or you’re threatening or putting trackers on a mother’s car, that is a direct threat to the child as well.”
“I couldn’t even begin to imagine why a father or a parent could hurt their own child before taking their own life,” said Katzman. “I imagine there were a lot of mental health issues, and that’s why our mental health system needs to be reformed.”
Greyson’s family believes this tragedy could have been prevented had someone acted.
“This mother knew something was wrong, people knew that something was wrong, and nobody did anything about it,” said Tempkin, “and that’s the problem, and that’s why we are standing here today, because we’re going to honor Greyson, and we’re also going to tell everybody, ‘We need a change.'”
Until then, these protesters will mourn the boy who lit up their lives, even if it was for a short amount of time.
“He was the most animated, smart, beautiful little boy,” said Ronnit. “What happened to him should never have happened, and it shouldn’t happen to any other child going forward.”
The family laid Greyson to rest last week.
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