CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Camp Greene Park in west Charlotte has become a go-to spot for vigils hosted by the homicide support group, Mothers of Murdered Offspring (MOMO).
The group helps friends and families who have lost loved ones to violence come together to grieve.
Genicia Hairston, the memorial coordinator for Mothers of Murdered Offspring, is present at most of the vigils. She explained why the group likes using Camp Greene Park for the gatherings.
“There’s enough space for people to spread out with COVID, there’s a shelter when there’s rain. It’s just a great location for these families to come in large crowds,” said Hairston.
The most recent MOMO vigil was held Sunday night.
A small group of people gathered at Camp Greene Park to remember the life of 15-year-old Shamareon McKinney.
McKinney was killed in a shooting off Tuckaseegee Road on April 10.
“He was my man. He helped me through a lot and for him to leave the way he did and I wasn’t there to be able to comfort my baby, it hurts a lot,” said Takisha Smith-McKinney, the victim’s mother.
Hairston said the community vigils help to grieve loved ones and show the families that there are other people who connect with the pain and hurt they are feeling.
Unfortunately, Sunday evening’s vigil ended abruptly. Hairston said most of the memorial had already transpired when gunshots rang out nearby.
“It was right there toward the end where we had just released balloons and we heard gunfire. It was very loud, ongoing gunfire,” said Hairston.
She said she informed the family that the vigil would have to be stopped early because of the gunfire.
Hairston said her concern was keeping everyone safe, but she felt bad for McKinney’s mother.
“To try to be having a positive way to grieve the loss of her son and then in the background you hear gunfire, I will never be able to forget her face,” said the memorial coordinator.
Hairston issued a stern plea for community members to settle their disputes without violence.
“Please stop. Put your guns down. Communicate like it is not that serious,” said Hairston.
Hairston said there have been no discussions about changing the location of the vigils. She hopes the incident near Camp Greene Park was a one-time situation.