Rising violence in Vermilion Parish and specifically Abbeville has prompted community leaders to take a stand. Last week, nearly two dozen churches rallied together for a three-day march against violence. And then Saturday, another deadly shooting occurred.
It wasn't how church and city leaders expected a violence march to end. But Saturday marked the eighth unsolved death in the area. It took many by surprise.
“Not another one,” is how Reverend John Vining of United Methodist Church in Abbeville said he thought after hearing of the shooting. “But yet, I realize this is part of the spiritual warfare that's going on.”
And it was spiritual unity that drew hundreds together last week to discuss what needs to happen to combat crime. Bishop Van Rousell of Solid Rock Church of God says the latest death only reiterates the need for change.
“They're fed up, they're tired, they're ready to do their part,” said Rousell. “So, overall, it was a tremendous success.” And with equally frustrated law enforcement, Rousell says authorities stressed the need for all eyes on neighborhoods. Both Reverend Vining and Bishop Rousell say it's now a team effort.
“We want to work together to see this problem solved because its killing our kids and we want that to stop,” said Vining.
But was the latest shooting death a message for Abbeville or just another violent incident? Rousell thinks the rally only sent a positive message.
“I don't think it was retaliation,” said Rousell. “I think it was a spiritual thing, a dark thing. I really think that's all it was. I don't think it was retaliation by any means.”