Churches ramp up outreach in wake of shootings
Two murder trials are awaiting court dates and police are still working on a killing last month in North Rome.
A man shot multiple times during last month’s fatal gunfight on Calhoun Avenue has been released from the hospital, but police are no closer to determining who killed Tamain Deshaun McKnight.
“People are saying they weren’t there or giving different versions of the story,” Rome Police Capt. Roy Willingham said Monday. “They’re unwilling to help.”
Willingham said Ladory Robinson, 29, is recovering from his gunshot wounds at home. Two other men, Evanda Spivey, 38, and Sammy Riles, 33, sustained leg wounds but were treated and released the same day.
Investigators are still working on the case that left the 35-year-old McKnight dead in a North Rome parking lot littered with shell casings and two semi-automatic pistols near his body. The incident happened around 4:20 a.m. Sept. 23 at 510 Calhoun Ave.
Meanwhile, several church groups are launching outreach initiatives in response to what leaders see as a growing plague of violence in the community.
“Gang violence, drug violence, domestic violence, all of it ties in,” said the Rev. Terrell Shields of Greater Mount Calvary Baptist Church in South Rome. “The end result is somebody’s family visits them in the cemetery and somebody’s family visits them in jail.”
Shields and a group of church members met Sunday night to delve into the issue and what they might do to combat it. He said parents, schools and churches — “the community as a whole” — must bolster their involvement in the lives of people who need help.
A major focus, he added, must be to teach ways of resolving problems without violence.
“It’s not so much gun control. Guns don’t kill, people kill,” Shields said Monday. “They have to learn to stop and think before they move to their gun. Their kids — more than one person is affected by their decision.”
A murder trial just wrapped up, with a not-guilty verdict, in the drug-related shooting of a Berry College student in Armuchee last fall. Suspects in two fatal shootings this summer are awaiting trial dates. One is accused of killing his girlfriend in South Rome, another is charged with murdering a man in his home near the site of the latest slaying.
“Things we used to see on TV that happened in D.C., Nashville, Atlanta, New York ... they’re making their way down to rural communities like Rome,” Shields said. “We need to stop it before it becomes an epidemic.”
Members of The Project Global, a church on Calhoun Avenue, also are mobilizing.
Lyle Morris said Monday they resolved during a brainstorming session to go out into their community, meet their neighbors and show love. He was at the nearby Hop-N-Shop last week, passing out hamburgers and talking to people.
“One man, he starts crying. He said, ‘Man, it’s so bad out here,’ and called it a devil’s world,” Morris said. “In many communities there’s no positive impact. We want to be a positive impact.”
The church is planning a community event this month in the parking lot of the strip mall where they meet, he said, but the main push is to make connections and become a constant presence.
“The goal is to share the love of God, because it’s not there in many communities. It’s in the church building, but a lot of people aren’t going to go to a church. So our goal is to go out and meet them,” Morris said.