Rocky Mount searches for youth violence answers after five teens shot
Posted February 17, 2014
Updated February 18, 2014
Rocky Mount, N.C. — Hundreds gathered at Word Tabernacle Church in Rocky Mount Monday night in search of answers.
They wanted to know why four teenagers were shot on the basketball court behind the church last month.
They wanted to know why youth violence is increasing in their community.
“We’re seeing some gang violence,” said James Gailliard, church pastor. “We’re seeing violence in general. We’re seeing a rise in guns being available in our streets.”
Community members gathered at the church for a panel discussion on ways to stop the violence. The talk comes after two incidents where five teenagers were shot.
Four people, all under 20 years old, were hit with bullets behind the church Jan. 28.
Nyreek Horne, 12, remains in critical condition at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville. He was the youngest victim. The other victims were ages 13, 17 and 19.
Shyheim Collins, 17, was charged with four counts of attempted murder in the incident.
The shootings came less than two weeks after Brian Freeman, 15, was gunned down Jan. 18 while walking home with a friend on East Highland Avenue. The shots were fired from a passing car.
No arrests have been made in his killing.
The recent violence highlights issues bigger than personal disputes or access to guns, said Kenard Johnson, a classmate of Collins at Rocky Mount High School who believes he was framed.
“We’re around a lot of poverty where we live,” he said. “And it’s a lack of money in the homes and it’s a lack of fathers.”
Several potential answers were discussed, including improving the economy and lowering the unemployment rate as well as increasing parental involvement and hope among young people.
“We have to now come together as a community and really come up with some solutions where everybody is bringing a piece of the puzzle together,” Gailliard said.