Community members call for accountability, change after weekend shootings

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COLUMBIA - Several community members talked about the need to hold each other along with leaders accountable following a double homicide in Columbia over the weekend.

Columbia Police Chief Geoff Jones spoke at a news conference Sunday afternoon to give details on the overnight shooting on the city's east side. It left one 38-year-old and one 11-year-old dead and three others injured.

Rev. James Gray said he was with the family of that 11-year-old Sunday morning.

"That 11-year-old is innocent," Gray said. "She hasn't even begun to live." 

Gray said the 4th of July holiday will never be the same.

"Next year, we're going to remember the death of that baby, the death of that young lady. But watch this: the fireworks are not going to stop."

He talked about changes that need to be made in the community.

"Everybody's on this Black Lives Matter, which is absolutely correct," Gray said. "But gun violence, black on black crime...that matters also."

He said these changes must start with conversations.

"I need us to have real talk," he said. "Black on black crime, how do we solve that? I'm not going to point fingers, but I will call you out."

Another community member and activist said people need to take responsibility for their actions. 

"It's time for us to hold our people accountable for what they do," Kentrell Minton said. "There's no more blaming. It's time to start holding accountability."

Minton is the CEO of Almeta Crayton's Community Programs, a nonprofit organization with a mission to connect and serve the community.

Minton said Sunday's incident "awakened and disgusted" him.

"She had a life, a long life ahead of her, even the adult," Minton said of the two victims who died. "We're still not living just because we are grown. We're still learning each and every day."

Minton said these changes are necessary for more than just what happened Sunday. 

"Someone's daughter, someone's mother, someone's cousin, someone's niece, that's what matters...But most of all, black lives matter...when we make them matter."