In the aftermath of the Thursday shooting at Oregon’s Umpqua Community College, gun control is once again in the spotlight. A 26-year-old shooter carried four guns into Umpqua school, killing more than 10 people and injuring at least 7, the New York Post reports.
It’s yet another tragic and senseless killing, and the exact kind of violence that mural artist Antonio Ramos was challenging two days before when he was killed under a freeway underpass in Oakland on Tuesday morning.
Ramos, 27, was working on a mural for the Attitudinal Healing Connection, a manifestation of the ideas of middle school students who re-imagined themselves as crime-fighting superheroes helping their communities. The Los Angeles Times reports that Ramos was shot and killed by a passerby at around 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday while he was working; the gunman remains at large.
In 2012, Ramos saw a mural and was so moved by it that he contacted the Oakland Superheroes Mural Project – an initiative aimed at educating children about violence through art – to see if he could help out. Ramos was working on the third mural at the time of his death, and since first contacting the Oakland Superheroes Mural Project, he had been actively working to making his community better. “He loved the messages and images envisioned by the students being spread throughout the community,” the group said to the LA Times, adding that he posted daily photos on Facebook to show off the murals’ progress. “He was a bright light on the team, bringing positivity, humility and dedication to the project.”
President Barack Obama echoed Ramos’ mission when he spoke on Thursday night and harshly criticized the National Rifle Association and gun laws. “We are the only advanced country on Earth that sees these kinds of mass shootings every few months,” he said, according to CNN. “This is a political choice that we make, to allow this to happen every few months in America. We collectively are answerable to those families who lose their loved ones.”
In Oakland, the community has shown up for Ramos’ family. Hundreds attended a prayer service and vigil on Wednesday. And one of Ramos’ friends has started a YouCaring crowdfunding page to raise $40,000 to help his parents pay for the funeral. So far, there has been more than $30,000 raised. The Oakland Superheroes Mural Project will finish the mural as tribute to Ramos.