For Trinika Walker, Saturday's gathering for her grandson was a memorial, but also a chance to steer others away from the suffering she'll never outlive.
"Kids just wanna play. And if they see a gun, they still wanna play. They don't know," said Walker. "And we as adults were supposed to be there to protect him."
Dozens of people gathered near 19th and Juneau for a balloon launch to remember A'kai William Stilo.
Early Friday morning, Walker learned he had been shot. According to police, the three-year-old got a hold of a gun and it went off.
He later died at a hospital. His mother is now in custody. Police plan to refer criminal charges to the District Attorney's office.
"He was a lover," said Walker of her grandson. "He loved his dad so much. And his mom so much. It's kind of rare when you see a father and a son relationship."
A'kai's father, Akem Stilo, said the two were very close.
"We did everything together. You see him. You see me. We was always together," said Stilo. "[I'll miss] everything. Everything. His smile. Him being irritated. Everything about him."
A'kai loved cars and Spiderman. And Walker said he ate like his father.
"He was greedy. He could eat a plate that was prepared for me. Can't take him and get him a kids meal. Had to get him an adult mean," said Walker, laughing at the memories.
A'kai is the second toddler this year to pick up a gun and accidentally shoot himself. The other child, a two-year-old boy, survived.
This year alone, 15 people under the age of 18 have died in shootings, police data shows. That's an increase of 67% percent from this point in 2021.
A'kai's sudden death has given renewed purpose to his grandmother's mission. Walker runs non-profit Stop the Violence 53206.
"This right here was a wake up call for me to talk to my family. So, I'll be doing more family talking,"she said.
Walker formed the Stop the Violence after her son, William Earl Davis Jr., was shot and killed at Swing Park in August 2018.
Walker has lost a son, a grandson, and her daughter's life is now in the hands of the justice system.
"My daughter is sitting in jail. And I don't know what I'll say to her, when I finally get that phone call," said said. "I'm hurt. I'm angry. He was too young to go."
But Walker endures. And, referencing the Bible, "stands in the gap," she said, so others may avoid her suffering.
"After today, if it's your family holding a gun — say something. After today, if it's your brother holding a gun — say something," she pleaded.