Central District holds prayer vigils after string of shooting deaths

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by KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on April 30, 2014 at 6:23 PM

Updated Thursday, May 1 at 4:46 PM

After a string of shooting deaths in Seattle, police are preparing for the possibility of more summer violence ahead. Community members are also gearing up with anti-violence actions of their own.

On Wednesday evening, Walker Chapel in the Central District held a community prayer vigil.  Pastors prayed for the strength to take back their neighborhood.

Of the five recent shootings, three have been fatal.

"This could've been my brother, my son, my neighbor, my father, my mother," said Reverend William Sheppard.  "This could've been anyone."

He's the pastor at Walker Chapel.  Two of the spots where men lost their lives can be seen from the front steps of his church.

Sheppard and other pastors walked through the neighborhood on Wednesday, introducing themselves to strangers along the way.

They feel that's the first step towards fighting back against this kind of violence.

"We pray that peace will come back to this neighborhood," he said. 

Seattle Police won't say if the recent shootings are gang related, although sources told KING 5 that gang rivalries are a likely cause.  Police did announce on Wednesday that they are stepping up patrols in that area.

Sheppard says it doesn't matter what's behind the violence.  The shootings have impacted everyone.  He says families are afraid to leave their homes.

"When violence happens in your community it not only happens to the individual, it happens to each of us," he said.

On Thursday, people are invited to take part in a "Heal the Hood" march through the Central District.  It will start at 5 p.m. at Earl's Barber Shop at 23rd and Union.

A similar event will take place at 8 a.m. on May 3rd, also beginning at 23rd and Union.

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