Hickory church members continue outreach after teen shot feet from them

CHARLOTTE — Church members in the Hickory area are offering support to neighbors at an apartment complex where they saw a 16-year old get shot.

The Waverly Ridge apartments are in the Ridgeview community in southeast Hickory. Church members were in the area passing out free pizzas last week when they heard gunfire feet away. They told Channel 9′s Dave Faherty they plan to go back to that neighborhood Thursday night for a community prayer service.

The group described hearing two to three shots fired about 50 feet away on May 4 and finding a 16-year-old badly hurt. Police said the teen was flown to the hospital after he was shot in the chest in an outdoor common area by another teenager.

Dale Duckworth, along with other members of Hear 2 Pray, rushed over to the victim to try to help.

“It was right behind us. The guy got shot right behind us,” he said. “I was probably the second person to him. I had a lady holding a shirt on the bullet hole and I was praying over him as he was laying there.”

The apartment complex has seen multiple shootings in the past. Faherty spotted a memorial for another shooting victim nearby.

Hear 2 Pray had been in the area on May 4 as part of a community outreach program to help struggling families. The group was back at the apartments Wednesday night spreading the word that they planned to hold another pizza party and a community prayer service for an end to the violence.

“Of course you’re worried about safety, but that then takes a backseat to your real message which is, I’m going to meet you where you are. This is your reality,” said Tonya Hughes.

Ashanti Freeman was surprised to see the church members back. She, too, tried to help the 16-year-old and is thankful the group returned one week later.

“They were trying to do good and something negative came out of it,” Freeman said.

But the group hopes by returning, they can make a difference and show residents that people want to help.

“It means a lot to us to show these folks how much we care about them and love them, and they’re not forgotten and not left alone,” Duckworth said. “That they are important and so that’s why we had to come back.”

“I think the bigger thing I feel is when I look in their eyes and they see that somebody sees them, and somebody heard them, and that’s why I heard them,” Hughes said. “And that’s why I’m here.”

Police have arrested a 17-year old in the case and charged him with attempted murder. The 16-year-old is in critical condition at the hospital.

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