Henderson, N.C. — Hundreds of Henderson residents packed into the auditorium at E.M. Rollins Elementary School Tuesday night to voice concerns about a number of violent crimes in the city in recent weeks.
Children and teens delivered perhaps the most potent messages of the meeting.
"I feel very frightened to go outside, just to play outside on a beautiful day," said Noah Snowden.
"Henderson is no longer safe," Trin Terry added.
Jada Kingsberry said she doesn't feel safe at school.
"There are a lot of gang members," she said. "I wonder if one day, would I get stabbed or shot."
Sarah Lewis was one of the first people to shuffle into the community crime meeting, which was planned in December to address schools and safety. A recent rash of murders, rapes and carjackings, however, changed the focus.
"Why aren't people talking? What is going on with the neighborhoods?" she asked.
Lewis' nephew and the mother of his baby were killed earlier this month in a motel shooting.
Edward Hawkins, 26, was charged Tuesday afternoon in their deaths.
"You took two parents away from their kids, and I have nieces and nephews growing up now without parents," she said.
Pastor Myron Henderson said there's a sense of paranoia in the community and called on city leaders to take immediate action.
"Talking is simply not enough," he said.
Neither Henderson Police Chief Keith Sidwell nor Vance County Sheriff Peter White addressed the community, though they both attended the meeting.
White said he didn't think it was his place to speak.