Community unites, confronts violent crime

Jun. 28, 2014 @ 05:10 PM

Darrell McCormick was at a house party with friends when a fight broke out.
He and his childhood friend began fighting over a girl, his mother said. Both of them had guns.
It was on that day, Jan. 23, 2011, that his life was cut short. He was shot in his upper back and killed at the age of 28. This is why Sharon McCormick came, and she wasn’t alone.
Dozens participated in the Kill the Violence event at Washington Terrace Park on Saturday, an all-day event that included a parade, an intimate anti-violence discussion with community leaders and performances by local talent.
Families marched united, holding picket signs and banners painted with the names of loved ones lost to street violence. Tonya Thornton of the nonprofit organization Building Broken Blocks organized the event with the goal of putting an end to it all, aiming to unite the community in “killing the violence.”
Although violent crime in High Point reduced nearly 16 percent during the 2012-13 fiscal year, it’s a problem many families deal with daily.
The death of McCormick’s only son left an astounding impact on his family, McCormick said. He left three children behind, who, at the time of his death, were ages 10 months, 1 and-a-half and 10. Now they’re 4, 5 and 14 years old, the oldest struggling the most, she said.
“Children should outlive their parents. No mother should have to bury their child. But I thank God for my grandkids. I feel sorry for the mothers that lose their kids and have no legacy, nothing to carry on after their kids are gone. This is so sad,” McCormick told the High Point Enterprise. “We are still going through so much emotional stuff, you know, I try to keep them in church, I try to feed the word of God to them because they have to believe in something. I just do the best I can as a grandmother to keep my grandkids going.”
McCormick participated as part of the discussion panel that included Gail Neely, executive director of North Carolinians Against Gun Violence; Mayor Bernita Sims; Jeff Golden of the High Point City Council; and Capt. Gordon Stallings of the High Point Police Department, among others.
From 2012 to 2013, murders increased from two to five, according to the High Point Police Department statistical report, while rape increased by 8 percent. Robberies decreased by 28 percent, along with aggravated assaults that also were lower by 13 percent. But the reasons may remain the same, and the challenge: how to stop it.
The discussion panel focused around the issue of many children and teenagers not having anything to do during the summer, along with their tendencies to use weapons. Last year, there was an incident similar to the violent outbreak this month in Winston-Salem where more than 300 teenagers gathered in downtown Greensboro in a meeting that quickly turned violent.
“These kids today are so quick to pick up a gun or something, and that’s why I put my baby in a casket,” McCormick said. “The outcome is final. You don’t get to do it over. You can’t take it back. It’s done.”
As families supported each other with hugs and cheers, McCormick addressed the crowd with whom she shared a common pain: the loss of a loved one killed violently.
“Kids need to realize that when you pick up weapons and you make a decision to pull that trigger, you can’t take it back ... and it leaves both families devastated,” she said as her voice shook. “This is real. My baby is gone. It hurts so bad. So, if I could help one child decide not to pick up a gun, that’s why I’m here.”