Ministers, police officers and neighbors all gathered at the site of a recent drive-by shooting Monday to highlight the need for community action against violence.
The little green house on Pierce Street where 16-year-old Kymberlee Moore was shot last week still bears a bullet hole near its front door.
Kymberlee, a student at E.C. Glass High School, was shot in the back on July 28 while sitting on the front porch with her family. A teenage boy also was grazed by a bullet.
Neither was seriously injured. A male juvenile, whose name was not released, has been arrested and charged with several felonies, including malicious wounding and shooting from a moving vehicle.
“It’s been rough,” Sharon Cash, one of Kymberlee’s aunts, said Monday. “On Saturday, someone shot a firecracker off, and the three of us who were out here (on the porch) freaked out. Then the other day, someone dropped something at work, and I just started crying.”
Cash witnessed the shooting, as did several other relatives and friends. The family often congregates on their front porch, which is lined with chairs for that purpose.
On Monday, a group of city advocates including pastors, police and neighborhood watch leaders assembled in front of that porch to issue a call to action.
The event was a continuation of an anti-violence campaign launched this summer by the local group Churches United for Service.
“It takes a village to raise a child, and part of that village is here today,” said Gerard Hutcherson, a lay minister at Jackson Street United Methodist Church and longtime friend of the family.
“We want to let (this family) know that we love them and care about them,” he said. “We’re concerned, and we’re here for you.”
Churches United for Service is in the process of forming a long-term plan for combating violence. The ministerial group began speaking out this year after a string of incidents that included several deaths.
So far this year, Lynchburg has seen three homicides, two nonfatal shootings and a public death that was later deemed a suicide by police.
The most recent homicide occurred on the same night of the Pierce Street shooting. Christopher Michael Flood, 35, was stabbed to death on Triangle Place.
Police have charged a Lynchburg man, 49-year-old William Andrew Hayward, with murder in that case.
Just two days prior to that, Churches United for Service organized what it called a “Love Walk,” an event that had volunteers hitting the streets to find out what residents were concerned about.
“A lot of people expressed hopelessness,” recalled the Rev. Artemus Dixon of New Dearington Baptist Church. “They felt there were no jobs, no opportunities. … The youth feel like they have no future. Some may not even feel like they’ll make it to 21.”
Correcting that is part of the group’s future goals, he added.
A second Love Walk is scheduled for Aug. 16, a Saturday. Participating churches also plan to start an adopt-a-cop program in hopes of creating a more personal connection between congregations and neighborhood police officers.
Kymberlee, a cheerleader who’s since rejoined her squad at practice, said she hoped her story would get others to think before they act.
Sitting on the porch, she looks at the ground and says quietly she doesn’t like to talk much about the shooting.
“It’s been hard, but not too hard,” she said. “I haven’t let it get to me or anything like that.”
“I appreciate this,” she added of the gathering on the front lawn. “It shows a lot of people care.”
Acting Police Chief Parks Snead, one of the speakers at the event, said this type of community involvement was “critical” to keeping the city safe.
“The police department always says, ‘Working for you, we can accomplish a great deal,’” he said. “But working with you, we can accomplish anything.”