The shooting deaths of rapper Glenn "Doe B" Thomas, 22, and Kimberle Johnson, 21, and the wounding of six others at Centennial Bar and Grill are tragedies making a big impact on the community- a community that wants change.
The victims' families leaned on the crowd for support Wednesday night during an anti-violence rally and tribute at Morgan Avenue Baptist Church.
The murders left their mark on even the youngest in the crowd.
"I've been having bad dreams about how it might happen to me and I've been having dreams about what might happen next," said LaMonica Smith, a child from Wetumpka in attendance. "I'm sad to see her face. It's just so sad to see her die on her birthday and Doe B, he had a long career and I just didn't want to see it end."
Members of the community and different local organizations gathered to bring awareness to the crimes in 2013 and to discuss how to decrease the numbers in 2014 by focusing on the younger generations. They called Kimberle "an innocent bystander" and "extraordinary woman who touched the lives of everyone around her" and Thomas "a local legend who inspired youth to follow their dreams."
"If you look at the trend, the people that are doing the killing are in their 20s and those that are dying are in their 20s so we want to bring awareness to our generation that really, enough is enough. We have to put down the hate, the violence because that's not solving anything. Someone being placed in the graveyard and someone being placed behind bars- it's time out for that," said Ja'Mel Brown, 22, the event sponsor. "We refuse to let another parent bury their child due to a homicide."
"When you say we lost Glenn and Kim, two extraordinary people, it's not a loss. It's a hope that we can keep going forward," added De'Anthony Turner, a speaker at the event. "They're in heaven smiling down on us and hoping that in 2014, we can touch the lives of the sick and the mentally ill. We want to save the killers and the shooters and the robbers and the thieves and the devils out there who are causing all this ruckus. That's what it's time to do today."
Speakers said the youth in the city need to be attending church and surrounding themselves with positive influences that inspire them to make the most of their lives.
The crowd also remembered Tim Hamilton, 20, who was shot twice in the incident at the Centennial Bar and Grill. Brown told those in attendance that Hamilton suffered a collapsed lung Wednesday night. He remains in critical condition.
The movement to stop violence in the community continues to gain momentum. Fresh Anointing House of Worship is hosting a town hall rally Thursday night at 6 PM to address how to tackle the issue. Community leaders have been invited to take part in the discussion.