ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Charles Lee Robinson Jr. and Lonnie Keys have known each other since childhood, but the two weren’t expecting to go through one of the hardest moments of their life together.
On March 13, they each lost their only son in a double homicide on State Street.
The fathers say their sons were at a gathering, but the two didn’t go together. In fact, they didn’t really know each other.
“I’m still devastated over it. They were literally together, with no problems, until an individual walked in and changed it all,” said Lonnie Keys.
In the shooting, Keys lost his only 28-year-old son, Lonnie Keys Jr.
“He was a humble, loving person. He was a college graduate. He was very, very adamant of just making it in life. He had that strive to do it and it was just taken away from him, so, so suddenly,” Keys said.
He adds that his son was a very good rapper and that his music will carry on for years to come.
“He was loved by a lot of people. This really touched the entire city. It’s devastating that he is gone,” Keys said.
Keys’ friend, Charles Lee Robinson Jr., also lost his only son the night of the shooting. Charles Robinson III was 31-years-old and had two young daughters. He had dreams of becoming an entrepreneur.
“He was a good man. He hung with bad guys, he hung with good guys, but everybody loved him. He’s one of those personalities that you can never get back,” Robinson Jr. said. “I just want everybody to know that my son was a good man. He may have made a bad choice, but we all do.”
Robinson Jr. said the night of the shooting, he got a text from a woman that was at the hospital accompanying his son, saying it ‘didn’t look good.’ Robinson Jr. finally got to speak with the doctor, who told him he was unable to save his son’s life.
“I felt like at that moment that I failed my son and it hurt. It hurt so much,” Robinson Jr. said. “I lost my mom, which was my best friend, so I always thought if I lose my mom and my son that I won’t be able to move forward.”
However, Robinson Jr. is moving forward, and he’s doing it with Keys by his side.
The two fathers are using this tragedy to call for peace and unity in the community, even if their sons were from different neighborhoods and hung with different crowds.
“We don’t have to continue with this war these kids have. But as fathers, we need to step up to try to stop the retaliation, stop the retaliation, come up with some solutions to make Rochester a better place,” Robinson Jr. said.
Keys said he’s tired of seeing Black on Black crime in the city and he wants to see something done about it.
“As a group of people, as a city, we’re killing our race and it’s dying fast, with these young people that have no care in the world for their life,” Keys said. “Something has got to be done. My son lost this life for no reason, just to go out for a drink. One drink, really? It’s senseless.”
Robinson Jr. said he’s calling on parents and children to step up in the community and address the violence.
“I’m hoping that all the fathers and parents would unite together and try to get Rochester back to like it used to be, where there’s no killing,” he said. “We should be able to talk things out. We should be able to debate with each other and still live another day, instead of just taking lives.”
The two fathers are gathering at 292 Hudson Ave. on Friday to address the city’s ongoing violence and provide solutions they hope will help.
“If we don’t get involved, these kids is going to tear the city up. I mean, people are moving out in droves. They don’t want to be here. Businesses don’t want to be here. This is a beautiful place to live,” Robinson Jr. said.
He adds that it is important parents play a role because they are the most likely to reach their children.
“Parents, please, please step up. We need everybody. We need to take our community back and we need that now,” Robinson Jr. said.
There are still no suspects in custody for the double homicide. Officials say two other victims had non-life-threatening injuries. They say both of these men are in their 20s.
Police ask anyone with information is asked to call 911, the Major Crimes Unit at585-428-7157, Crime Stoppers at 585- 423-9300, or email MajorCrimes@cityofrochester.gov.