A 14-year-old boy who had his entire future ahead of him was shot and killed by the very man who should’ve loved him the most, his father, police said.
Authorities say that an argument over the victim’s sexual orientation led up to the slaying, News 3 Las Vegas reported.
According to police, Giovanni was murdered Thursday afternoon when his father, 53-year-old Wendell Melton, arrived at the boy’s home and shot him to death.
“Giovanni was abused physically and mentally and spiritually for many, many years,” Sonja Jones, Giovanni’s former foster mom, told News 3. The station reported that Jones “spoke of the teen she loved as one of her own.”
“He hated the fact that his son was gay,” Jones continued. “I’m sure that inside of his mind, he would rather have a dead son than a gay son.” The woman added that Giovanni had been threatened by the man before.
The story is going viral on social media, where many are taking the time to express their outrage and condolences, as well as using the opportunity for LGBT awareness. Hashtags such as #GiovanniMelton and #RIPGiovanni are beginning to trend on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter:
“If you aren’t ready to love a person with no limits, unconditionally, don’t be a #parent,” @EQ_Lab tweeted. “Rest In Power! #GiovanniMelton Art: #KendrickDaye”
“If you were wondering about the conditions that make so many queer and trans Black youth homeless, the case of #GiovanniMelton is clarity,” @FranciscoLWhite wrote:
This is why I believe coming out (unharmed and unaffected) is a privilege,” @HoodCulture said. “He risked his life in order to feel comfortable #GiovanniMelton”
“Homophobia kills,” @blkhlth tweeted along with a photo of Giovanni. “Silence and inaction towards homophobia kills. #GiovanniMelton”
adrianexpression posted a powerful video to Instagram:
The video’s text reads:
Another massacre? Another day in America. Church-goers in #Texas experienced an unfortunate (preventable) event and #Trump is calling it a mental health issue. Sounds about white. #GiovanniMelton was a 14-year-old boy who’s father preferred a dead son over a gay one. Everytime people say I’m “mean” or “aggressive” when defending LGBT rights, remember Giovanni. Remember that the man who helped bring him life and who was supposed to protect him, ended up taking everything from him because of fucked up homophobia. Let’s talk about it.
“I have no words,” @cesca_jayyy wrote. “#restinpower #giovannimelton”
“Many of us have been bullied as Lgbtq people. We have been assaulted and hurt physically, mentally and emotionally,” @IAmGMJohnson said. “Not ok! #GiovanniMelton”
The Federal Bureau of Investigation released the following Hate Crime statistics in 2015:
There were 5,818 single-bias incidents involving 7,121 victims. A percent distribution of victims by bias type showed that 59.2 percent of victims were targeted because of the offenders’ race/ethnicity/ancestry bias, 19.7 percent were targeted because of the offenders’ religious bias, and 17.7 percent were victimized because of the offenders’ sexual-orientation bias. Victims targeted because of the offenders’ bias against gender identity accounted for 1.7 percent of victims of single-bias incidents; disabilities, 1.2 percent; and gender, 0.4 percent. (Due to rounding, percentage breakdowns may not add to 100.0 percent.)
Thirty-two multiple-bias hate crime incidents involved 52 victims.
Rest in Peace, Giovanni.