Not a day goes by that we don’t feel our daughter Darien Richardson’s absence in the world and the empty space where she should be.
On January 8, 2010, at 1:30 a.m., armed intruders burst into our daughter’s home in Portland, Maine, shooting several times into her bedroom. One bullet hit her left hand. As she tried to roll off her bed, she was shot in her right leg at the knee. That bullet traveled the length of her thigh and lodged in her hip. Her world was violently turned upside down in an instant.
Darien endured great physical and emotional pain working to recover, spending three days in the ICU and 18 days in critical care. Sadly, on February 28, 2010, Darien died from complications of her gunshot wounds—her life cut short at age 25.
Our daughter had her entire life ahead of her, with much more to contribute to the world. She was beautiful and vibrant with a zest for life. She had a big, infectious smile that drew everyone to her. Darien was kind, compassionate, helpful, and generous. She sought out—and found—only the good in everyone she met. A social butterfly who loved music and loved to dance, she was intelligent, accomplished, hardworking, and a valued member of our society. Darien was loved and is missed by all who knew her; her death devastated our family.
Darien should be here still. She should have been in her sister’s wedding, not a photo in a charm attached to her sister’s bouquet. She should have been here to help me plan and host her sister’s baby shower. She should be here now to enjoy her baby nephew—she would love being an auntie. She should be here. She should have been able to live the full and bright life she deserved.
But Darien’s homicide has never been solved—and dangerous loopholes in our country’s background check system are partly to blame.
The handgun used to shoot her was recovered in February 2010 at the scene of another murder. After her death, the bullet in her hip was given to the police, and ballistics proved it was from the recovered gun. Further investigation led to a Maine man who originally bought the .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun at retail. But he soon sold it at a gun show privately to someone he didn’t know: No background check, no records kept—because neither were required by law.
It’s too late for us. We can’t have Darien back. But it’s not too late to prevent more tragedies.
We honor her memory by advocating for better gun laws and to close these dangerous loopholes. So many families are torn apart by gun violence, including suicide, domestic violence, and unsecured guns. The victims, survivors, and the families impacted by gun violence are often forgotten, so we continue to call attention to the impact of gun violence in all our communities. We don’t want others to endure the pain she did or the pain we have lived with since her death.
Lives matter more than politics; one victim of gun violence is too many.
Every day, more than 120 people in the United States are killed with guns, twice as many are shot and wounded and countless others are impacted by acts of gun violence.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. WONDER Online Database, Underlying Cause of Death. A yearly average was developed using four years of the most recent available data: 2018 to 2021.