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An ornament and a memory: Families who lost loved ones trim a tree in annual LAPD event

For 14 years, the Los Angeles Police Department’s 77th Street community station and the L.A. County Bureau of Victim Services have hosted an annual holiday tree trimming for people who have lost loved ones to violent crime. 

Detectives and victims' advocate Angie Moreno stood in the lobby Tuesday evening as families adorned a Christmas tree with photos of their slain siblings, children and parents.

Some were struggling to endure their first holiday season without a family member. Others have learned over the years to cope.

And some people's thoughts lingered on the final holiday gift they received from their loved one.

Joe Randle

A video posted by Los Angeles Times (@latimes) on Dec 23, 2015 at 5:02pm PST

Joe Randle's son, Jason Randle, died Aug. 7, 2010, in Vermont-Slauson. The 21-year-old was shot behind his apartment complex.

Joe Randle said that he has a special place in his heart for his only biological son and that he cherishes their last Christmas together.

Cleveland Ross III

A video posted by Los Angeles Times (@latimes) on Dec 23, 2015 at 5:13pm PST

This Christmas will be Cleveland Ross III's first without his son, Cleveland Ross IV, who was killed March 12 in Vermont Vista. The father was working with his 27-year-old son on a car battery outside an AutoZone when a gunman drove up and fired the fatal shots.

Ross III plans to spend the holiday with his 5-month-old granddaughter, Myhonesty, whom his son never met.

Yolanda Williams

A video posted by Los Angeles Times (@latimes) on Dec 23, 2015 at 5:10pm PST

Yolanda Williams is celebrating the holiday season for the seventh time without her son, Waymon Weston, who was killed Oct. 19, 2009, in Westmont. Sheriff's officials said the 20-year-old was outside his home when two men approached and opened fire.

She has loosened her grip on the painful memory with each passing holiday, but she can still remember the final Christmas she spent with her son, and the last Christmas gift he gave her: an embrace.

Contact the Homicide Report. Follow @jeromercampbell and @latimeshomicide on Twitter.

Photo: Family members around the tree in the lobby of the LAPD's 77th Street Station in South L.A. on Tuesday. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times | Instagram vignettes: Photos by Jay L. Clendenin, editing by Robert Meeks / Los Angeles Times

Read about previous years' tree trimmings:

2014: LAPD station brings victims' loved ones together in holiday tradition

2013: Family members honor lost lives during annual tree trimming

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