By Caitlin Aquino
On Thursday, November 2, policemen from Henderson, Nevada found 14-year-old Giovanni Melton critically wounded in his apartment. According to local authorities, he was shot dead by his father, Wendell Melton, after an argument about his sexual orientation and significant other. The Henderson Police Department later posted on Facebook that the father was arrested at the scene on felony charges of open murder, child abuse, and possession of firearms.
Sonja Jones, the teen’s former foster mother, told NBC affiliate KSNV that the boy was “abused physically and mentally and spiritually for many, many years” and said she believed he was killed because of his sexual orientation. “He (Wendell Melton) hated the fact that his son was gay,” Jones stated. “I’m sure that inside of his mind, he would rather have a dead son than a gay son.” Jones added that it was to her understanding that Wendell had caught the teen “with his boyfriend before and pulled out a gun on him.”
Over the phone, Jones spoke of the teen she loved as one of her own. She described the event as a beautiful life being taken away because of ignorance. “I hope they throw the book at him,” she told KSNV, referring to Wendell. “I hope he never sees the light of day. I hope every day when he looks in the mirror, he sees his son’s face.”
Jaime Grant, executive director of PFLAG National, an American-based organization for families and allies of the LGBTQ community, announced Giovanni’s death as part of a broader societal issue. “We have a crisis of masculinity in this country — it’s obvious across the board in this report and in the unrelenting reports on sexual assaults and also gun violence,” Grant said to NBC News. “Many ‘normative’ messages men learn as they are growing up about stuffing their feelings, policing other men’s gender and sexuality, asserting ‘dominance’ from the boardroom to the bedroom, also show up in their lives as fathers.”