BOSTON (CBS) – It was standing room only inside the Berea Seventh Day Adventist Church in Dorchester Wednesday Night as the mother of a 13-year-old shot nearby received hugs and support. “We thank you we’re not at a funeral lord. We have had too many funerals lord. You spared Gabriel’s life,” one pastor said during prayer.
Friday night, Gabriel Clarke was going to meet his mother Shirley for choir practice. Police say a car pulled up next to him and opened fire. He was shot in the stomach, but is expected to recover. “He’s on the mend. He’s a strong young man,” said Pastor Nigel David who leads Berea.
David organized this event to pray for Gabriel and his family and to start a discussion about the violence that put him in the hospital. “The conversation that I hope we have is what we can do in a combined effort as churches, parents and leaders to make our community more aware,” David said.
The rally brought together other pastors, neighbors, elected officials and police, including Commissioner Ed Davis who assured neighbors his department is doing all it can to catch whoever shot Clarke and to make the streets safer. City Councilor Tito Jackson called for more police officers in the area, but also told the crowd they can help by becoming more engaged. “We need to go talk to our neighbors ladies and gentlemen. We need know our neighbors and each and every one of us need to step forward and go five doors to the right and five doors down to the left,” he said to a rousing response.
Fellow City Councilor John Connolly said as a parent, hearing what happened to Clarke was difficult. “It is the thing a parent worries about the most hearing their child has been harmed,” he said. While police are out on the streets trying to get guns out of criminals’ hands, he said they can’t fight this problem alone.
“It also runs through the home front and making sure that you know when we see a kid in trouble that we’re intervening and also making sure that we’re holding parents accountable,” he said.
This is a subject close to Pastor David’s own upbringing. He was once involved in gangs and knows focusing on young people can change lives and maybe send someone going down the wrong road onto a better one. “I know that it was an intervention in my life by adults that and people that showed me an interest that helped to redirect my life,” he said. “Sometimes people want to know that you’re interested and number two that you really care about them.”
He’s already planning a second rally here, Saturday aimed solely at young adults. Shirley Clarke did not want to talk on camera Wednesday night, but told WBZ what the service was a blessing to her. There are still no arrests in her son’s case.