ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. (WNCN) – More than two dozen people from different neighborhoods in Rocky Mount came to Truth Tabernacle Ministries Thursday evening all with one goal in mind: finding a way to stop crime.
“In a setting where they can feel heard. Where they can feel welcome. Where we can come back and really look at what are some of the action plans on where we can collaborate with our community on how to move things forward,” Richard Joyner said.
Joyner is a Rocky Mount City Council Member in Ward 3. He helped organize the listening session in the community he represents.
Residents, city leaders, doctors and even the police chief attended the meeting.
CBS 17’s camera was not inside. However, we were allowed to sit and listen in.
We heard community members suggest things such as creating a “peace park” and better utilizing community programs.
“It is time for us to bring all those lights together so that the people that are in this darkness, they can see the light,” resident Kenneth Muhammad said.
Muhammad spoke during the meeting and talked about the need for unity among residents.
Others brought up root issues such as mental health and the need for affordable housing.
“We need to go back to understanding that you are human and I’m a human,” Dr. Danny Ellis said.
“I go inside the building and immediately when I get in there, I see the first victim lying face down,” described Ellis.
Ellis said he planned to go to dinner that night. Instead, the former U.S. Army combat medic said he along with other medical professionals, who happened to be there, did all they could to help.
He said they found the teenage employee hurt and the woman lying on the ground.
“We had someone holding pressure and realized there was an exit wound. She was aware and looked at me very, very clearly and knew she was in trouble,” Ellis said. “We did all that we could do.”
Police said the woman, 38-year-old Natasha Berry, died.
“What bothered me that night, that I had trouble sleeping, was not seeing the blood and the trauma. It was the fact that two mothers on Mother’s Day were hurting,” Ellis said.
Joyner said there will be more community listening sessions.
Rocky Mount Police Chief Robert Hassell also said he plans to meet with both the Edgecombe and Nash County superintendents to discuss proactive solutions.