COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – After a violent week in the Capital City, community members are coming together praying for the violence to stop.
Dozens of people gathered on the Rich Street bridge Saturday afternoon.
“We came today to let the violence know that the violence is going to stop,” said Pastor Niki Hampton with Kingdom Community Church of God.
The group, which helps families and works to end violence in Columbus, added locks for 6-year-old Londynn and 9-year-old Demetrius Wall-Neal, the siblings killed in a shooting Tuesday night on the southeast side along with 22-year-old Charles Wade.
“We’re thinking of Demetrius, we’re thinking of Londynn,” said Malissa Thomas St. Clair, founder of Mothers of Murdered Columbus Children.
Mothers of Murdered Columbus Children was already planning on being on the bridge Saturday for a different event, but after Tuesday’s shooing, members decided an emergency community prayer vigil was needed.
“We heard the mayor’s call to action,” St. Clair said. “He said it starts with prayer. That’s what we’re going to do.”
Friday night, there were two additional deadly shootings in Columbus, one on East 13th Avenue and one on Century Drive.
Hampton pointed out the significance of having the rally at the bridge over the Scioto River, saying bridges bridge gaps.
“As long as we can bridge the gap between violence and would-be victims, we will see the victory,” she said.
Saturday’s event also included a new group, Fathers of Murdered Columbus Children.
“It’s time to be present, it’s time to offer support, and don’t just stand there, but do something,” said David Fluellen with the Urban Family Development Center and Fathers of Murdered Columbus Children. “Don’t just stand there and watch our community go down and we’re worried about street codes and all that stuff. Man, at this point, this week changed the game. We’ve got babies dying.”
A close friend of the Wall-Neal siblings’ family was at the rally as well, sharing information about how to help.
“It has definitely been a journey and we are just in the beginning,” said family friend Arnetta Davis.
Davis said the Wall-Neal siblings have an 11-year-old brother and three cousins who were like sisters to them. She is organizing a toy drive for those kids. Toys can be dropped off at Eyeglass Parties, according to Davis. Eyeglass Parties is at 6382 Gender Road in Canal Winchester.
The groups said Saturday’s windy and cold weather didn’t matter and wasn’t going to keep them away because the violence needs to stop.
Anyone with information on this week’s fatal shootings is asked to contact Columbus police’s homicide unit at (614) 645-4730 or Central Ohio Crime Stoppers at (614) 461-8477.