Officers, officials, clergy and residents honor mass shooting victims at Daytona vigil.
BY ANDREAS BUTLER
The Daytona Beach community came together this week to mourn the recent loss of lives in this country due to mass shootings.
A prayer vigil was held on Monday at the Daytona Beach Police Department headquarters at 129 Valor Blvd. for those who died this month El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio.
Patrick Crusius, 21, opened fire at a Walmart on Aug. 3 in El-Paso, killing 22 people while injuring 24 more. The next day, Connor Betts, 21, shot and killed 10 people in Daytona, including his sister. Twenty-seven others were injured in that mass shooting.
“We just want to honor these victims. We are dealing with an element that now has no regard for human life. Color doesn’t matter, age doesn’t matter. These are sick individuals bent on killing as many people as possible,” said Daytona Beach Police Chief Craig Capri.
‘Affects all of us’
The prayer vigil also stressed the need for the local community to have unity, dialogue and communication.
Daytona itself has seen its share of gun violence. A string of shootings last month between rival groups beefing about rap music and drugs had the city on edge.
“This event was needed. It’s not just an Ohio thing or a Texas thing. It’s a national thing that affects all of us. We had several shootings locally last month. We should have done this then,” said Daytona Beach Police Chaplain Monzell Ford.
“Once I heard about these shootings, I felt the need to bring the community together. We want to honor the victims and their families while bringing our community together. I think that is why Daytona stays strong. We come together and pray. I just hate we do it after tragedies.’’
Local plans in place
The event was attended by law enforcement, clergy, elected officials, community activists, community leaders and other local residents.
Law enforcement agencies are working diligently to keep people safe.
“We have plans in place. God forbid it happens here. We pray every day that it doesn’t. We do plenty of trainings. We train our officers on active threat training and how to respond,” Capri explained.
“We have actual police officers in all our schools working as school resource officers, not guardians. We are hyper-vigilant and always working with our federal, state and county partners on intelligence. If we get any threats, we follow up on them immediately.’’
Capri further stated, “I think we have a great plan in place, but if you see something, say something or do something. That is all we can ask of the public. Even if you don’t think it’s important, let us make that determination.”
Residents who attended the vigil also weighed in on the tragedies. Despite these incidents, they feel safe overall.
“I think it’s important to honor the victims and their families. I also came to support our community and our clergy. I think that law enforcement is doing the best that they can. I try to stay out of harm’s way when I’m out in public,” responded Daytona resident Janet Jackson.
Daytona Pastor Rory Carey also weighed in.
“It’s a community event. It’s for everybody. I’m also clergy myself. These tragedies affect everyone. This event and others are what we need to strengthened and protect our community,’’ said Carey, who is pastor of Daytona Christian Center in South Daytona.
“We are as safe as perceivable. I believe the police and sheriff does exactly what they can but more can be done. We need to be proactive instead of reactive.”
Capri: City is safe
Community involvement is detrimental for law enforcement to fight crime.
Capri emphasized, “Our city is safe. We respond quickly. We just hope to get the intelligence before anything happens. We need your help with all aspects of crime-fighting. Our 240 fulltime officers can’t do it all. Jump in and help by letting us know what’s going on or looks out of place. You’ll be glad you did.”
The hope is that unity, awareness and community involvement can help prevent such tragedies.
Ford explained, “Be nosy. See what is going on. Check on family, friends, co-workers and neighbors. The fact is everybody goes through something and it’s usually for a reason.
“For example, somebody talked to these shooters. Somebody is talking to somebody right now with those same thoughts. They may not be picking up on it. If you sense something, reach out to them or someone else who can help. We can probably prevent these incidents through communication and dialogue.”
Bishop Derrick Triplett delivered the main prayer at Monday’s vigil.
Prayers also were given by Ford; the Rev. Larry Edwards, pastor of St. John’s Baptist Church of Ormond Beach on behalf of the Black Clergy Alliance; and Daytona Beach Community Relations Manager Dr. L. Ronald Durham, who is also a minister.
The event included comments by Daytona Beach Mayor Derrick Henry. Daytona Beach City Commissioner Zone 1 Ruth Trager also attended.
Three candles were lit during the vigil – one for El Paso, Dayton and Daytona Beach.