WADESBORO, N.G. — A community spent an hour praying together Thursday night in Anson County after four people were shot in eight days.
In one of those shootings, a teen was killed and another potentially paralyzed.
Community members gathered at the Anson County Courthouse to pray for change.
“The feeling is tense,” said the Rev. Mark Perko, of Deep Creek Baptist Church. He said the community is on edge following the string of recent shootings.
A social media rumor about a threat at the prayer vigil even kept some from attending.
“There was no credible threat, but still, it’s on edge. People are scared to go out at night. You don't want to get caught in the crossfire,” said Perko.
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In one of the shootings, Malik Byrd, 16, was killed leaving a pickup basketball game.
“He was just an exceptional child,” said Anson County Commissioner Vancine Sturdivant.
Byrd called Sturdivant “Grandma” even though they aren't related.
“Exceptional -- I don’t want to cry. He was exceptional on the ballfield -- exceptional in his grades,” she said.
Malik's cousin was also shot and was left with injuries that could leave him paralyzed.
On Tuesday, another shooting in the middle of the day sent a victim to a hospital.
“We can love on each other and hug on each other and find comfort,” said Perko.
County leaders said there has been a rise in gang activity in the county and while prayer is powerful, there's more to do to make the community safer.
“I think the parents are going to have to step up,” said County Commissioner Ross Streater
The Sheriff’s Office was out Thursday night with extra deputies to make sure the event was safe. There have not been any arrests made in the murder of Byrd. Wadesboro police are investigating.
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