Fatal, police-involved shootings of African-Americans have been at the forefront of national discussion in recent years, and now Columbus finds itself in that conversation. On Sept. 14, Ty're King, 13, was shot and killed in Olde Towne East by Columbus Division of Police Officer Bryan Mason. The incident has gained international attention and moved city officials, activists and artists to examine safety issues in Columbus.

Fatal, police-involved shootings of African-Americans have been at the forefront of national discussion in recent years, and now Columbus finds itself in that conversation. On Sept. 14, Ty're King, 13, was shot and killed in Olde Towne East by Columbus Division of Police Officer Bryan Mason. The incident has gained international attention and moved city officials, activists and artists to examine safety issues in Columbus.

According to police, officers arrived at the scene in response to a 911 call reporting an armed robbery by a group of teens. Police confronted King, who officers say then pulled what was later found to be a BB gun from his waistband. Mason shot King in response.

Demetrius Braxton, 19, told police he was with King that night and confirmed that King was in possession of a BB gun. However, he said police shot King after the young teen ran away. (Police later arrested Braxton and charged him with robbery in the incident after the robbery victim identified Braxton as the person who pointed a gun at him, according to the Dispatch.)

An autopsy performed by a forensic pathologist hired by King's family determined that King was "more likely than not" running away when he suffered three gunshot wounds, with one bullet exiting through his left temple. The Franklin County Coroner's Office has yet to release its autopsy results.

There are no additional details regarding the event, which is currently under investigation by the Columbus Police.

"All these people [are] talking about he deserved it," said King's sister, 13-year-old Marshay Caldwell, during a vigil on Sept. 15. "Ty did not deserve to die."

Others who knew King spoke at the somber gathering, which featured lighted candles alongside "Black Lives Matter" signs. King's football team, the Columbus Day Stars, was present, as well.

King also played hockey, and his coach, Mark Stansberry, spoke at a #KneeforTyre protest at City Hall on Sept. 19. "He couldn't skate very well, but he tried his damnedest," he said. "For me, Ty're King is not just part of a list. He's an individual I've known for eight-plus years."

According to People's Justice Project Youth and Family Organizer Amber Evans, activists are providing platforms for positive memories about King in order "to counter the stories that are being portrayed in the media."

"Ty're had lots of interests in different things, he was ... a very talented young man with a lot of skills," said King's grandmother, Dearrea King, at a Sept. 27 press conference held by the family at the Columbus Urban League. She talked about his adeptness in gymnastics and how he was very protective of his mother. "I know the character of my grandson. I know what my grandson meant to his mother and to his sisters. What we want - what we all want - is justice."

From the Chicago Tribune to The Guardian, publications outside Ohio are covering King's death, which appears to be gaining more attention than Columbus' other 12 police-involved shootings this year - despite the absence of video footage.

"It would be hard to imagine that a police-involved shooting involving the death of a 13-year-old child would not garner the attention of the media," said Melanie J. Crabill, a spokesperson for Mayor Andrew Ginther. "It should, and did, cause us all to pause and reflect on the tragic circumstances that led to the incident, and to pray for the family and friends of all those impacted."

At a press conference on Sept. 15, Ginther pointed to "easy access" to firearms and replicas, and stated King is dead "because of our obsession with guns and violence."

"We ought to be shocked and angry as a community," he said. "In the safest big city in America, we have a 13-year-old dead in our city. … It is time for this city and this community to step up and to make sure that our children and our neighborhoods are safe."

One effort toward that goal is the city's Community Safety Initiative, enacted 12 years ago to reduce crime in target areas during the summer months. A press conference scheduled to share results of this year's program was set to take place on Sept. 15 - the day after King was killed - but was canceled because of the shooting.

"It was important for Mayor Ginther to share as much information with the public as soon as possible, and to call on the community to draw nearer, remain calm and work together to prevent further loss of life," Crabill said.

Some community members believe the initiative has created tension and distrust and say they feel unsafe in the presence of police.

"These kids are facing threats amongst themselves, but also threats [from] people who are paid to keep them safe," said People's Justice Project Organizer Tammy Fournier Alsaada. At recent vigils and rallies, activists have expressed that both children and adults of color are seen as bigger threats and are treated more harshly by police. They cited the 2014 fatal, police-involved shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice - who also had a BB gun - in Cleveland, and the police killing of Henry Green in Columbus, which took place this past June, as examples.

"We're still fighting for Henry Green, and so to have another loss of black life … is just painting this greater picture that is contrary to what Andrew Ginther has been hailing Columbus [to be]," Evans said.

"The system is flawed," said attorney Sean Walton, who is representing the King and Green families. "The families of Ty're King and Henry Green stand together, demanding justice, demanding accountability, demanding an independent investigation that does not involve the Columbus Police department or the Franklin County Prosecutor's Office. It's not a huge ask. … It's something that, across the country, cities are doing. Why can't Columbus? What do we have to lose?"

Local rapper Al Shepard (best known by the stage name Blueprint) expressed a contrasting approach to recent police-involved shootings. "I grew up in predominantly black neighborhoods," he said. "I had good interactions with the police [and] I had bad interactions with police, but I do think that a lot of what we're seeing … is more of a reflection of the anti-police narrative that has been pushed to the forefront."

Two days after King's death, Shepard penned a Facebook post responding specifically to the lack of balance he saw on his social media timeline, where posts focused on the police response rather than events that preceded the shooting. "Take a second and think about the people that live in that community and looked out their window and saw those kids robbing people … and how unsafe it has made them feel. … Now imagine if you were in that position, being victimized," he wrote. "If you think about that for just one second then you will have just a small window into what these people deal with daily and why they called the police in the first place."

Activists have also started addressing the issue of violence among residents in certain neighborhoods. Included on a list of demands for the city is a request for funding to be invested in violence prevention and intervention instead of what some deem to be over-policing. Shepard, however, believes the community can empower itself to solve the problem without outside resources.

"If … we believe that we have to sit back and have some ongoing conversations, and then we have to have legislation involved and we have to get body cams and then we have to have police training … we're seeking solutions that involve institutions with which we have absolutely no control," he said.

Local rapper Correy Parks, in contrast, is using his art to spread awareness about police brutality beyond concerned community members. Parks used his Sept. 16 mid-day performance for the Dispatch's Window on the World music series to read his King-inspired poem, "Bet u tired," in lieu of performing a previously planned set of songs.

"I had this idea, like, 'This is all I want to do. I don't want to promote myself,'" he said. "I just want to promote how I'm feeling right now."

Parks will perform with other local artists on Friday, Sept. 30, at the "Free the People" concert, which promises to be "a night full of love and power" offered up in response to the deaths of Green and King. Vada, Bruce Slaughter, Nes Wordz, Keisha Soleil and others are scheduled to perform at the free event.

"It's the artists who are really driving this. People have been seeing what is going on around the country, and it's been hitting home here [in Columbus] with Henry Green being killed in South Linden, and then most recently when Ty're King was killed. So this became something we felt we needed to do," said concert organizer James Hayes. "Music is one of the most powerful forces for bringing people together. Nina Simone said it best: Artists need to reflect the times. And in these times there are a lot of hip-hop artists and singers and poets who felt called to come together and do something to bring some positivity and to try to uplift the community."

Moving forward, activists insist efforts will not grow stagnant. "We will continue to fight," Evans said, "until there's justice brought for Ty're King … and countless others who have lost their lives."