VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Kyle Holbrook has lost 46 friends to gun violence.
“There’s some pictures I have where I’m the only one still living," he said. “I’ve been shot at walking down the street so I know how easy it is, and how much this gun violence epidemic is affecting our young people, our communities.”
It's put the artist on a Gun Violence Awareness National Tour to all 50 states, and he just left his mark on Virginia Beach.
Holbrook painted the "Peace Virginia" mural on the side of Lolly's Creamery in the ViBe District near the Oceanfront. The image shows two hands, each holding two fingers up, to look like "VA." The first hand also doubles as the "peace" sign.
Holbrook said it's to remember the loved ones he’s lost, and people across the country who also lost their lives to gun violence.
“You know, we’re so inundated with all these shootings that happen... sometimes more than one in one day," he said. "A lot of times I feel like people forgot and I don’t want other families who have lost loved ones to feel like their family or loved one is forgotten.”
Now, he’s on a mission to encourage people to put the guns down. He’s painting murals across the country to raise awareness about the problem.
"It’s just amazing that this is going on all around the country so it’s important for people to know that this is an American issue," Holbrook said.
He said he's already painted in 42 states, including this one in Virginia.
“I wanted to be in the mural in an area where people from all walks of life can see it," Holbrook said. “To come up with solutions, we need everyone together as a country and as a city, working together.”
It was made with brushes and acrylic paints, similar to Banksy's style, a sponsor with Moving Lives of Kids Arts Center wrote.
The 8x8 painting was officially unveiled Wednesday at 11 a.m. at the family-owned ice cream shop on Virginia Beach Boulevard.