CINCINNATI (FOX19) - It’s been one year since the shooting death of Le’Monte Shields and the 19-year-old’s burial plot is still without a headstone.
That could soon change thanks to a former teacher who recently stepped in to help.
Le’Monte graduated from Taft High School, where Deidra Owens was one of his teachers.
“His death was very tragic for me,” Owens told FOX19 NOW Thursday.
Owens remembers Le’Monte as an ebullient teen. “He was never upset,” she said. “He was always happy.”
That’s just how Le’Monte’s mother wants him remembered — funny, helpful, bright, the sort of person who was always helping people fix things.
For her part, Cindy Shields says she still begins every morning with tears.
“It’s like a breath taken away. You can’t breathe,” Shields said. “When you think about him, you can’t breathe...”
Le’Monte was shot and killed in July 2019 in the City Heights complex in Covington.
“I miss how he used to take care of his sisters,” Shields added.
Le’Monte is buried at the Vine Street Cemetery. His family didn’t have enough money for a headstone when he was buried. Upon learning of that, Owens created a GoFundMe to get one.
The GoFundMe reads in part:
“[Le’Monte] still doesn’t have a headstone and I thought it would be beautiful to give his family this gift. I have no clue how much one costs but i am going to call around tomorrow. LeMonte, I called him LeLe, was my student for 3 years. I stayed in touch with him, and his 4 besties, after graduation. He was the funniest, sweetest, and lover of life. He was taken way too soon. I would really love the help to give his momma this gift this year. Anything will help. Please, love the ones you are with”
“I want to find that comfort for Cindy and her family,” Owens said.
Shields says getting the money together has been hard because she’s only working two days a week now due to the pandemic.
“I struggle with it. If I could, I would go every day,” Shields said of visiting Le’Monte’s grave. “Sometimes you get up there and see the dirt... I know that he’s here, but if you see that stone, it means more.”
Shields says she’ll talks to Le’Monte or say a prayer when she visits his grave. She says she wants it to be a special place for all his loved-ones, like his cousin Ciara Owens.
“It’s definitely like losing my own child,” Ciara said. “I miss my cousin. I miss him a lot.
“A lot of people go to see Monte. Just to have it there, it would be great.”