NC town ‘hurting’ after boy dies from crossfire in gunfight

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RED SPRINGS, N.C. (WBTW/WNCN) – A Robeson County town is mourning the death of a five-year-old boy died last week after being hit by a bullet during a gunfight.

People living in Red Springs say it’s been a very sad week since Alva Paisley “A.J.” Oxendine died. Town leaders say the shooting isn’t the only violent incident in the area recently.

Because of that, they’re asking everyone in the town to do what they can to make the community safe.

“If people were numb, Wednesday’s events woke them up,” said Caroline Sumpter, who serves as a town commissioner.

Sumpter and Mayor Edward Henderson say they’re worried about recent violence in the town and throughout Robeson County.

“Hopefully, other towns in our county will unite and say, ‘You know what? We’ve had enough’,” Sumpter said.

Sumpter says Oxendine’s shooting death last week needs to be an end to the violence. 

Deputies say Oxendine was caught in crossfire in the back seat of his mother’s car with his brother while two groups of people were fighting.

The boy’s mother told investigators she drove there, with her kids in the car, to pick up her sister who was in a fight. 

Oxendine was shot, rushed to the Red Springs Police Department and then a Lumberton hospital, where he died.

“We’re all hurting,” said Sumpter. “We’re all hurting and it’s not something that will go away, but we can move forward in a positive light to make this community better. Our kids will be out of school on Friday and they need to know that they’re safe.”

The town is organizing the Red Springs United Vigil of Peace.

Sumpter says the vigil is not only to remember victims like A.J., but also to find ways for parents, educators and other community leaders to prevent more tragedies.

“We know it starts at home,” she said. “I can’t affect change in someone’s home, but I can say these are some of the tools that we can use to take one street back at a time.”

The vigil will be held outside the town hall Thursday at 6 p.m. Some sponsors of the event include the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office, Red Springs police, educators and faith leaders.

Anyone going is asked to wear orange, the color of gun violence awareness month, which happens to be this month.

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