Mom of Waffle House shooting victim honors him on his 29th birthday

“I didn’t have a choice. I promised him that I was going to fight to make sure that we had these changes,” Shaundelle Brooks said.
The mother of Akilah DaSilva honored him on what would have been his 29th birthday. Akilah was killed in the 2018 Waffle House shooting.
Published: Nov. 17, 2023 at 11:56 PM CST
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Blue balloons, a birthday cake and candles filled the inside of Shaundelle Brooks home on Friday evening. Brooks along with her two sons are honoring what would have been Akilah DaSilva’s 29th birthday.

DaSilva was one of the four victims who died after a gunman fired shots at the Waffle House in 2018. Nearly six years have gone by and his family say they don’t go one day without thinking about him.

DaSilva’s mother said her son should have been here to celebrate his birthday. She said the days leading up to his birthday are truly overwhelming.

“I hate to say happy birthday. I mean I don’t think I’ve said that since cause it’s not a happy moment, you know with him not being here,” said Brooks.

Brooks says her son Akilah was very loving, kind, hardworking and enthusiastic about life. Gun violence was something he talked about often, seeking change after experiencing loss himself.

“One of his things was gun violence. You know he lost some of his friends to gun violence,” said Brooks.

Akilah was a producer, writer and rapper. His content online is how his family heals, getting the opportunity to experience his personality and his passion.

“I’m so grateful. I was saying that yesterday, how grateful I am that we have videos, we have footage of him even speaking, being silly, so I’m super grateful that we have that,” said Brooks.

After Akilah’s death, Brooks was thrusted into gun violence advocacy work launching the “Akilah DaSilva Foundation.”

“I didn’t have a choice. I promised him that I was going to fight to make sure that we had these changes, that he was going to get justice. And then we had the case we didn’t have a choice but to fight for what was right,” said Brooks.

This summer Brooks’ world was hit by gun violence again after her oldest son, Abede, was shot in the head after performing at a venue in Davidson County. She said the weight of trauma was in her life yet again.

“Same emergency room. We’re sitting in the same spot waiting for the doctors to tell us what exactly is going to happen. walking into that emergency room seeing him lying there in blood, and being told that the bullet is lodged in his brain,” said DaSilva.

Her son Abede survived the shooting and is recovering, undergoing physical therapy. It’s a miracle of a recovery in her eyes.

“Gun violence doesn’t just affect just one race, or one gender, or it has nothing to do with your financial status right. It affects everyone. It’s so uniquely an American problem,” said Brooks.

In a few weeks, Brooks plans to meet with lawmakers in Washington, D.C., and attend an annual vigil for victims of gun violence. She said she will continue to advocate for change.

“We need to address it. There’s too many people dying, too many children especially,” said Brooks.

For information on the Akilah DaSilva Foundation, click here.