Durham pastor encourages churches to reach out to at-risk youth in hopes of curbing gun violence

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Within 24 hours on Saturday, three people were shot in three different incidents.

Around 12:30 a.m. on November 21, one man was shot and killed outside an apartment complex near Meriwether Drive and Old Oxford Drive.

Later that morning, another man was shot by a drive-by shooter as he walked out of 360 Barber Shop on S. Roxboro after getting a haircut.

He was struck in the leg and sustained non-life-threatening injuries. In this same incident, a stray bullet struck the Iglesia Evangelica De El Principe De Paz church next door. No one was in the church at the time.

And finally, on Saturday around 8 p.m., one man was seriously injured after he was shot outside of a mini-mart at the intersection of Hardee Street and South Holloway Street.

Durham police said all three shootings are still under investigation and no word on if any of them are related.

These shootings come as the city of Durham has had 840 shooting incidents this year, according to data from the Durham Police Department.

The number of shootings is up 30 percent this year from the 589 shooting incidents Durham had so far this time last year.

So far this year 279 people have been shot and 25 of those individuals have died.

City officials have previously said that COVID-19 has played a factor in the recent spike in shooting incidents. In addition, authorities have also said that some of the shootings are gang-related.

“There are so many young men that are hurting,” said Sylvester Williams, pastor of the Assembly at Durham Christian Center.

Williams grew up in east Durham and he said his neighborhood is not the same.

“At one time we were a community that was closely involved with one another and reached out to each other, now it’s a community where we have to lock our doors at night,” Williams said.

He said in his neighborhood and in other parts of Durham, shootings are happening at an alarming rate.

He said that a lot of the young boys in his neighborhood do not have a father figure in their life.

In an effort to bridge that gap, Williams said that Black men from his church reach out to these young individuals and provide mentorship.

“I talk to a lot of the young guys and they feel that they will never make it to their 30s,” Williams said. “It’s because they have seen their friends die at an early age. They’ve known relatives that were killed at a young age and so they feel like that was their lot in life.”

In an effort to show them there’s another way, he said his church takes them on field trips to places outside of Durham, such as Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

He said his church also recently held a basketball tournament to get the young boys in the community away from the streets.

“It’s something to give them a different outlook on life than what they’ve been seeing,” Williams said.

Williams said he is encouraging other churches in Durham to reach out to the young folks in their community and do what they can to help get them on the right track.

“Here in Durham, there is a church in every community just about,” Williams said. “So if they will reach out to the ones in their community, that can make a big difference.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories

Click here for full list of trending stories