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Crime Daytona gathers in prayer after 9 shooting deaths

17:28  04 december  2019
17:28  04 december  2019 Source:   news-journalonline.com

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DAYTONA BEACH — Several shootings in the last three weeks that left nine people in the city dead prompted City Commissioner Paula Reed to bring the community together for a prayer vigil on Tuesday night.

a group of people looking at each other: Arthur Wright and other men pray during the Peace For Our Streets community prayer vigil, Tuesday December 3, 2019 following several resent shootings in the city.   [News-Journal/David Tucker]© News-Journal/David Tucker/The Daytona Beach News-Journal/TNS Arthur Wright and other men pray during the Peace For Our Streets community prayer vigil, Tuesday December 3, 2019 following several resent shootings in the city. [News-Journal/David Tucker]

There have been five deaths by gunfire in the Midtown neighborhood of Daytona Beach since Nov. 17, including a murder-suicide. The area is in Reed's electoral zone for city commissioner.

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Police said the Dayton shooter had been killed. It was the second mass shooting in less than 24 hours DAYTON, Ohio – Lifting their voices in song and prayer , thousands of Dayton residents gathered downtown to mourn Sunday night, less than 24 hours after a gunman killed at least nine

opened fire, killing nine people and wounding seven before police shot him to death in the deadliest burst of Hundreds of community members gathered in a local park for a candlelight vigil of them in tears, gathered around a large "UCC" sign made of lit glass candles and whispered prayers and held

"For us this strange. It is not like this all the time," Reed said of the rash of shootings.

More that 200 people gathered for the Community Prayer Vigil held at the John H. Dickerson Community Center in Midtown.

"This is not Daytona Beach," Reed reiterated.

Pastors prayed for the victims' families, the Midtown neighborhood and the city. Community and top law enforcement leaders urged citizens to take a stand against crime and bring about the changes needed to safeguard young lives in the city.

"I'm extremely sad to see young men lose their lives so senselessly, and to see their brilliant future snuffed out and nobody can explain why," Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said.

"My prayer tonight is that when we leave, we leave angry and we decide that we are going to have the power of our own destiny, that we are going to do all that we can do to protect our children and protect our families," Chitwood said.

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Just after 8 p.m., hundreds gathered in the Dayton community to remember the nine lives lost in a Below are the names and ages of the nine victims who died in the Dayton, Ohio, mass shooting . El Paso District Attorney Jaime Esparza announced Sunday that prosecutors will seek the death penalty

Police also are investigating two murder-suicides. One, on Sunday night, involved a man and a woman whose bodies were found in a car in Midtown. The other was two days earlier, Friday morning, at Daytona Beach Health and Rehabilitation Center.

And on Dec. 2, two shooting incidents, including an officer-involved shooting, shook a neighborhood off Mason Avenue near Clyde Morris Boulevard.

In all, gunfire since mid-November has claimed the lives of nine people in Daytona Beach.

Daytona Beach police Chief Craig Capri pushed back against the notion that violence in the city is out of control. The chief said the incidents are separate cases with no connection.

Capri asked those gathered at the vigil to support the police and to help them solve the homicides in the city.

Capri said the prayer vigil was to respect for victims of the gun violence and to bring awareness to the issue.

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"We do have a problem here, there is an issue. I am not downplaying it," Capri said. "There are some violent crimes that happened here."

Capri said the goal of investigators now is to get closure for the families and justice for the victims, but police need the community's help.

"The police department can't do it all. We need the community's support, the community's help, to help us find these killers and bring them to justice," Capri said. "We are going to do it but if you help us out we are going to get there faster."

The first shooting that would end with a death occurred on Nov. 17. Police said that shortly after 10 p.m. that night, Sammy L. Watson 56, was shot in his driveway by a suspect who tried to rob him. Watson died 7 days later at Halifax Health Medical Center, police said.

Watson's son attended the vigil but declined to speak to the media.

The second shooting claimed the life of Eric Gordon, 18. The teen was shot in the head while driving his car near Russell Drive and Cedar Street around 9:30 p.m. on Nov. 23. The impact of the gunfire caused Gordon to tear through the fence at Campbell Middle School on Keech Street and crash into a school building, police said.

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The shooting occurred hours after a different gunman killed 20 and wounded 26 at a Walmart in El India Jones embraces Ladashia McNichols during a prayer vigil Sunday afternoon at Levitt Pavilion Mourners gather at Levitt Pavilion following the mass shooting that left at least nine dead and 26

In the first hours after the shooting , the police blocked reporters and passers-by from approaching the church, opposite a Marriott Courtyard hotel, because of a bomb threat. Helicopters with searchlights circled overhead, and a group of pastors knelt and prayed across the street.

Gordon also died at the hospital hours later.

Then on Nov. 27, as gunfire sounded outside his home, Fauto Flores-Hernandez, 36, left his dinner table around 7:33 p.m. to check it out. A high-powered rifle bullet came crashing through the front door striking Flores-Hernandez in the head, killing him inside his home, police said.

On Nov. 29, across town, police said the husband of a woman with dementia killed his wife and then himself at Daytona Beach Health and Rehabilitation Center at 1055 Third St.

William Shook, 71, walked into the rehabilitation center to visit his wife, Jane Shook, 71. He asked her to come to her room to talk and shot her dead, with a .38-caliber revolver. William Shook then shot himself in the head, Daytona Beach police said.

Then, on Monday, Jerric Harris, 21, walked into his neighbor's home at 845 Hollywood St. after an argument and shot Jamauri Burks, 21, five times in the neck and chest area, police said.

Burks, who was taken by family and friends to Halifax Health Medical Center, died of his injuries.

"I don't know why this happened. I can't believe he is gone," said Rance Perry, Burks' uncle.

Perry said he saw his nephew grow up around him. He taught him to climb a ladder, something that Burks used working as a tree surgeon with Henry's Trees Service.

"I called him Thumper," Perry said breaking down. "He was no trouble child. I taught him how to cut trees." Perry said.

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Harris, watched as police arrived on scene to investigate and then took off running when a witness identified him, police said. Harris then shot at two officers who returned fire, fatally wounding the gunman.

This rash of shootings is the second wave to hit Daytona Beach this year.

In July, several drive-by shootings and a fatal incident also shook Midtown area. Police said Kevin Stokes, 18, was one of three masked suspects in a vehicle chasing after two other suspects in another vehicle the afternoon of July 9 in the area of Weaver Street and Mary McLeod Bethune Boulevard.

The driver of the vehicle that was being chased crashed and both he and his passenger got out and ran, but the masked suspects chased down one of them and shot Daemon Carn, 9, in the back, according to police.

Stokes was the shooter, police said.

And after more than a month on the run, Stokes was caught Sept. 16 at a gas station at Bill France and International Speedway boulevards.

Tuesday's vigil was a sort of healing for Alberta McQueen, 71, who knew Rocky Hudson, whose body was found in the Midtown murder-suicide with Sarah Jackson, 31.

The prayer vigil honoring the death of Hudson, 49, brought back memories of him as a young boy attending Highlands Elementary School with McQueen's children. She welcomed him into her home, where he would often play with her children. The kids, she remembers, would remain friends throughout all of their schooling.

"On our street, it was just like a village," McQueen said. "People were closer then than they are now. I've noticed that we aren't as close as we used to be."

McQueen said "it just seems like some of us aren't concerned, and we need to wake up."

McQueen said she was in disbelief when she learned of Hudson's death.

"It was very hurtful," she said. "And it was around the holidays, too."

Tanya Williams, 57, also knew Hudson since he was a boy.

"I was very close with his sisters, so it hit home," Williams said. "It hurts my heart that this happened."

"He came from a good family," she added. "His mother worked hard. His sisters were good people. He was a good person overall, so it's just tragic."

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