By John Balch
“I don’t want him forgotten, and I want to get this important message out,” said Shaunell Finley-King of Nashville about her decision to purchase a billboard in memory of her son, Donyell Michael King, who died May 13, 2019 in a Hot Springs hospital after being shot late in the evening on Mother’s Day May 12.
Finley-King’s message is loud and clear: Stop gun violence.
The billboard, which Finley-King said would be one of several around Southwest Arkansas, was purchased with her own money and was unveiled Tuesday afternoon at its location on Highway 27 South near the Nashville Animal Clinic.
“It’s just mind-blowing how easy someone can get their hands on a gun,” King said.
On Mother’s Day 2019, 23-year-old Donyell King,
affectionately know around Nashville as “Head,” was in Hot Springs with his family when an altercation broke out and ended with Donyell dead of gunshot wounds inside his car and his father, Donald King of Nashville, injured. Finley-King was in the backseat of car when her son was killed.
“We are a family and community still in mourning for a life taken too soon,” Finley-King said Monday before the billboard was to be unveiled.
“I still have faith in God and our justice system,” she added.
The trials of the two Malvern men charged with Donyell’s murder are set to open April 21 in Garland County Circuit Court.
Donyell has not been forgotten in the Nashville area, and his memory will live on for many, including Nashville Scrapper baseball coach Kyle Slayton.
“Donyell was one of my most favorite players of all time,” the coach said. “He was a great athlete and was also a great leader in his own way. ‘Head’ led by example and was always a ‘yes-sir, no-sir’ guy.”
Slayton said Donyell could play almost any position on the baseball field and “still holds the single-season stolen base record for the Scrappers. He is one of those players that I would have taken in and let live with me in my house. Long live the King!”