Oakland has its fair share of violent crimes but when it was reported last Thursday that 14-year-old Mario Tolliver Jr. had shot and killed his sister, 17-year-old Justice Tolliver, allegedly because she bleached his laundry, people were shocked.
What could possibly explain it? Was it an accident? What caused him to point a gun at, let alone shoot his blood sibling?
Numerous questions still have yet to be answered. However, Mario turned himself in Wednesday afternoon ending a nearly week long search, which now may give the investigators and the family more answers to their questions.
But the fatal shooting of Justice has many community members emphasizing the importance of direct parent involvement in the education of their children.
“It’s time for families to really get back to training a child they way they should go,” said Ken Chambers, pastor of Westside Community Baptist Church. “It’s time for families to be accountable for their children.”
Both parents have a criminal history, and the two children spent the majority of their childhood with their father because their mother has been incarcerated for lengthy periods, according to sources. The siblings were living with their grandmother at the time of the shooting.
Donny Mouton, the uncle of the siblings, says their mother not being around had a major impact on their lives. He says the siblings had a love-hate relationship, but he does not believe the shooting was intentional, adding the fight over laundry had happened weeks prior and was not a factor the night of the shooting.
“Emotions can get in the way of anything, [and] I believe it was a total accident,” said Mouton. “I feel for my niece, she was a beautiful person.”
But now that Mario has turned himself in, the District Attorney has 48 hours to officially charge him. According to an Alameda County attorney, the DA has the power to charge any juvenile, 14 and older, as an adult – commonly known as a direct file.
However, given Alameda County’s liberal reputation, some lawyers believe the case is likely to begin in the juvenile court system, and then the decision of whether or not Mario Tolliver should be charged as an adult will be decided by a judge.
“We need to be in prayer for this family,” said Pastor Chambers. “The young man has done the right thing by turning himself in.”
The family has started a fund to assist with the costs of Justice Toliver’s funeral. To contribute, go to www.gofundme.com/6gezaw.