MOBILE COUNTY, Ala. (WKRG) — A local church held a community meeting on Wednesday, calling all parents, guardians and children to have an open discussion regarding the violence in our community.

The event took place at Midway Missionary Baptist Church in Theodore. Those in attendance asked questions to the panel of law enforcement and community officials centered around gun violence.

“How often do you all actually have family members or close friends of the perpetrator to actually turn someone in? said Pastor Anthony Brooks, of New Hope Baptist Church in Wilmer, Ala.

“What type of program do the state or the feds have in place to rehabilitate that child? Because most of the time those kids get out and then do the same thing, a repeat offender,” said Pastor Leonard Whitfield, of Midway Missionary Baptist Church.

There were others, who shared their personal experiences including Taryn Taylor Brooks. Brooks’ son was shot during a senseless act of violence in 2021.

“April 30 of last year, he was shot in the head right on Airport Boulevard,” said Brooks. “The bullets came through the wall and hit my child, but they were looking for someone else. And as the mother who had tried to do everything right, me and my husband tried to put them in things, keep them busy.”

This open panel gave community members who are fed up with youth violence, the opportunity to speak with leaders who have the ability to assist with these issues.

“They have to feel a need to have a gun because they know other people have guns,” said Tinisha Trotter. “They’re scared, they said they want to shoot somebody before they get shot. And, this is something that I heard in church with good kids.”

This event also gave officials the opportunity to gain insight as to what may be playing a part in the overall issue of youth crime.

“Creating laws around gun ownership don’t necessarily impact the people were trying to address,” said Mobile Public Safety Director Lawrence Battiste.

“Make sure that they’re going to school. Make sure their needs are met. They are out on the street, and they are by themselves and what do you think they’re going to do?” said Mobile Presiding Circut Court Judge Edmond Naman. “They are going to look for any arm that will reach out and bring them in, and if we don’t reach out our arm someone else is sure going to do it.”