Community gathers to confront violence
Fatal shooting wake-up call, pastor says
Scores gathered at Macedonia Baptist Church on Tuesday night to seek ways to respond to Saturday’s fatal shooting at Arrowhead Mall and were told to pray, seek unity and be stronger parents.
“The events of April 3, 9 and 10 is a wake-up call. The time for doing nothing has ended,” the Rev. Charles Moore, pastor of First Baptist Church of Summit, said, referring to the Saturday’s shooting and violent events that happened earlier that week. “The question is, who are the peacemakers? We are the peacemakers.”
The shooting occurred shortly after 4 p.m. Saturday in the east end of Arrowhead Mall. Jarrod Reed, 17, of Muskogee died after being shot in the torso. Five were injured.
Tuesday night’s meeting, sponsored by the Muskogee Christian Union, included a call for pastors and African American men to meet with youth to help curb tension and the risk of violence. The gathering ended with a prayer service and candlelight vigil in which pastors of various churches led prayers for those involved in the shooting, for peace in the community and for stronger families.
Muskogee Police Deputy Chief Johnny Teehee talked about police efforts to get African American men and pastors to meet with at-risk youth.
“We are actively seeking people to meet with the young men — and women — to give them a way to talk about what’s going on,” Teehee said. “We’re looking for men and women who have an interest in the community, to solving problems.”
He recalled past years in which police officers got involved with such programs as the Paul Young youth football program.
Muskogee Christian Union President, the Rev. A.H. Jones, said he remembered when pastors used to ride with police on Friday and Saturday nights. He also recalled how African American pastors came to Muskogee Regional Medical Center on Saturday night to help ease tensions resulting from the shooting.
District Attorney Larry Moore, who also spoke, said the shooting touched the community.
“There is not a one here tonight who is not a victim of what happened Saturday night,” Moore said. “We all know the history of Muskogee. The shooting is not a white issue. It is not a black issue. It is not a white and black issue. It is an issue.”
Muskogee High School prevention specialist Sheril Morgan encouraged those attending to help curb underage drinking. She encouraged parents to get their high school age kids to attend the alcohol-free party after the MHS prom Saturday night. Jones said he encouraged dozens in his congregation to sign up as chaperones.
Pastors of various churches, including Baptist, African Methodist Episcopal, Presbyterian and nondenominational, led prayers for those involved in the shooting, for peace in the community and for stronger families.
Macedonia pastor, the Rev. Larry Smith, exhorted parents to set better examples and lead their children. Referring to the proverb that compared children to arrows in a quiver, Smith said, “Children have to be aimed like arrows and directed.”
Reach Cathy Spaulding at 684-2928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.