GOLDSBORO, N.C. (WNCN) — Members of the Goldsboro community rallied together Sunday afternoon to have a conversation about ways to combat gun violence in the city.
The event comes less than two weeks after a mass shooting killed a 15-year-old girl and injured five other teens.
“We are a resilient community, that yes, it is a tragedy, but we’re going to use this tragedy as a triumph. We’re going to use this as a triumph. And we’ll look back on this, years from now and say, ‘this was the thing that got us to where teens can walk the streets and don’t have to worry about gunfire’,” said Mark Colebrook, the founder of Operation Unite Goldsboro.
Colebrook and other community leaders are looking to start an initiative that would create safe spaces for teenagers. These spaces would include a collaboration with local businesses and organizations to hold events for teens to gather safely, without fear of gun violence.
“We would go inside that gymnasium, and we would have a time. We would have a party; we would have a dance every Friday night. And nothing like this ever happened,” said Dr. Raymond Smith Jr., a former Democratic state representative who was born and raised in Goldsboro.
Joyonna Pearsall, 15, was shot and killed at a pool party in the city on April 12. Five other teenagers were injured in the incident.
The rally stressed the need to hear directly from teenagers, and getting their perspective on the ongoing issue.
“It shouldn’t have went this far for us to realize that the guns need to be put down,” one teen said during the rally.
Community leaders discussed the need for everyone in the community to continue coming together to create meaningful change, including having conversations with the city’s youth.
“Our kids are not perfect, because we’re not perfect, but all they need is someone to just listen,” Colebrook said.
They’re hopeful these kinds of conversations can help make a difference, especially in situations like this, where Pearsall’s killer is still on the run.
“Should no parent have to go through what I went through. Should no parent have to feel the pain. My heart aches daily, day in and day out,” Joyonna’s mother said during the rally.
She, and other members of the family, made another plea for anyone to come forward with information.
“Whoever is around these people that did it, you’ve got to know there’s something wrong with your young child, they’re acting different or weird. They can’t be acting the same after knowing that they almost took six lives,” Joyonna’s mother said.
The community plans to continue having these rallies for however long is necessary.