'Put your guns down': community calls for peace after recent violence

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COLUMBIA - Community members gathered Saturday to honor those who have died in recent Columbia incidents. 

Members of Restoration of Life Ministry hosted a barbecue outside their church on Grand Avenue.

"It was helpful. There was a sweet spirit about Columbia," longtime Columbia resident and Restoration of Life member Marilyn Cook said. "Now everybody's mad."

In September alone, six people have been shot and killed in Columbia. Some of them teenagers.

"Now I'm afraid to even go for walks," Oak Towers resident Gloria Elliott said. "Even short ones. I worry about something's going to happen and I'm going to get stuck in the middle of it."

Residents said they're worried the violence in Columbia has gotten out of control.

"Like my son said the other day, he said it seemed like a dark cloud over Columbia," Restoration of Life member Wilma Blair said.

She said it's time for the people responsible for the deadly shootings to come forward.

"What are you scared of?" Blair said. "If you were man enough or woman enough to pull the trigger on a gun, and think that makes you a man? That's not a character of a man; that's not even a character of a human."

Church members said it's time for parents, community leaders and law enforcement to re-evaulate their practices.

"It takes a village to raise a child," Cook said. "We don't teach kids about death. We're scared to teach them about death."

Both Cook and Blair said there is one simple solution to curb the violence and restore peace in Columbia.

"Put your guns down," Blair said.

Cook agreed.

"Amen, put your guns down," she said.