Gun violence conference to remember 20 years since Yoshi died

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Twenty years have passed since a Japanese exchange student was mistaken for an intruder and shot and killed.

Since then, his parents and many others have come together advocating to stop gun violence.

Yoshi Hattori's parents flew in town from Japan on Wednesday. His tragedy grabbed international attention and Friday was no different with many in town to recount what happened 20 years ago.

"I felt as if part of my body, part of myself was gone somewhere," said Yoshi's mother Mieko Hattori.

It's a pain the Hattori family lives with. October 17, 1992, etched in their minds when their son Yoshi and his host brother, Webb Haymaker, were headed out to a Halloween party. The two were lost and knocked on the wrong door.

"We knocked on the front door. We heard the carport door open. Bonnie Peairs opened the door, looked at us, slammed the door in our face. We walked away and then Ronnie Peairs came out with a gun," said Haymaker.

Peairs shot and killed Yoshi that night thinking he was an intruder. Yoshi's parents flew in from Japan and on the flight going back home...his mother says her son told her to fight for gun violence.

"Everybody was asleep in the plane. I felt as if Yoshi was with me," said Yoshi's mother Mieko Hattori. "I felt like Yoshi told me to do something so that's how I felt."

So 20 years later, his parents, sister, host family, an author from Washington are back in town along with others at the Unitarian Church trying to stop gun violence. Some say eliminate guns altogether.

"I live in Japan. We live safely completely. I never felt we need a gun to protect yourself," said Yoshi's sister Sachiko Hattori.

Author Mr. Horwitz uses stats to say every year, 30,000 people are shot to death and more than a 100,000 people will be shot this year. But Haymaker said their goal is not to rid guns completely, just require more training and a licensed and insured shooter.

As for the man who killed Yoshi, the family holds no remorse.

"He's used to using the gun and also the general circumstances in this country, they allow him to use a gun, carry a gun. He is also a victim of this shooting," said Yoshi's mother.

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