CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN/AP) — Hundreds gathered on a chilly Friday night to remember the Chapel Hill one-year-old shot and killed Christmas Day.
They surrounded the mother and grandmother of the toddler, Maleah Williams.
They lit candles and tried to console one another and tried to make sense of a shooting that has left this community heartbroken.
“This is family, you know, we want things to change. Things to be different here,” said Sylia Harris of Durham.
The gathering was held in front of the housing complex on Trinity Court where Maleah Williams was killed on Christmas. Police said she was the victim of a drive by shooting.
Earlier Friday, state and local chapters of the NAACP and religious organizations held a service in remembrance at St. Joseph’s CME Church in Chapel Hill.
“I’m trying to hear an apology as to why none of these churches reached out,” said Clarissa Farrington, grandmother of the victim.
Farrington got more than apology for the family. The family got love, support and prayers.
We gotta stop these funerals. Our people made it through slavery without killing one another,” said Rev. William Barber.
There was sadness, frustration and anger at the prayer service.
“I’m sorry our community didn’t move quickly enough or fast enough,” said Michelle Laws, minister at St. Joseph CME Church.
Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue said the service was an opportunity to demonstrate that everyone in the town is all one community.
“This was everyone’s loss. It’s very much the community’s loss. My heart and prayers are with all of you,” Blue said.
More than one person at the prayer service decried what’s happening in the black community regarding the shootings that are taking so many lives.
Barber called it genocide by a generation of young black men who solve their problems with guns.
The one-year-old died Monday, two days after she was shot.
Three men are facing murder charges in connection with the shooting. Neighbors said they knew the suspects. And for that there’s also frustration and anger.
Maleah Williams’ funeral was scheduled for Saturday at 1 p.m. in Chapel Hill.