By Barnett Wright
The Birmingham Times
Birmingham Mayor Randall L. Woodfin, joined by nearly two dozen faith leaders, on Tuesday announced a $125,000 fund to help solve crimes against six children under the age of 10 who have been shot in Birmingham so far this year.
One of the children, Major Turner, 2, died Feb. 5, just hours after someone riddled his Kimbrough Homes apartment with gunfire. Arrests have been made in only one of the cases.
The Gun Violence Against Children Fund will be used to provide money leading to the arrest of individuals responsible in the separate shootings. A $25,000 reward will be available for each case.
“There is a line that is crossed when children are hurt,” Woodfin said. “No one has the luxury to sit on the sideline . . . if you have information to get the shooters and cowards who hurt children off the street I appeal to the public to come forward.”
Clergy representing more than 20 churches and organizations provided contributions ranging from $500 to $10,000 to create the Fund.
The Rev. Thomas Beavers, of New Rising Star Church, said residents must step up to combat the no-snitch mentality and find ways to assist city leaders.
“We have the power to be the change we want to see in Birmingham . . . we’re waiting on someone else to make the change. We have the power to be the change,’’ he said.
“This is the reason that all of us have stepped up,” he continued. “This is the reason that all of us [faith leaders] had chosen to be a part of this effort, because we understand that at the beginning, the middle and the end of the day, if real change is going to take place, it’s not up to the President of the United States . . . it’s not up to our mayor . . . it’s not up to the city council, it’s not up to the board of education . . .”
Those at the announcement on the second floor of City Hall – one of the first in-person city news gatherings since the pandemic began more than a year ago – included Katrina Grady whose eight-year-old girl, Kaitlynn, was shot and injured last month after her family stopped to help another motorist in the 1400 block of Warrior Road.
“Never in a million years would I have expected something like to happen. It makes you scared to want to help anybody,’’ she said.
“For six kids to get shot, we’ve got to do better than that. Somebody knows who did this to my child,’’ she said. “If I hadn’t gotten down, those bullets were coming straight toward me. That was nothing but God.”
She said it was “pitiful and ridiculous” to see what was happening in the Black community. “And I hate to say it, but it’s us. It’s us,’’ Grady said. “Black lives matter. Every life matters, but we’ve got to do better than this. We all bleed the same blood. Something needs to be done.”
The five cases identified for the Gun Violence Against Children Fund are:
–Feb. 4: Someone fired shots into two-year-old Major Turner’s home around 10 p.m. in the Kimbrough Homes Housing Community. Turner died on Feb. 5.
–April 4: A five-year-old boy was one of five people shot and injured at Patton Park on Easter Sunday shortly before 7 p.m. A 32-year-old woman was killed in the incident in the 1200 block of Sipsey Street.
–May 7: A nine-year-old boy was injured when someone fired into his home in the 4700 block of Avenue T.
–May 18: Kaitlynn Grady.
–May 22: A five-year-old boy was shot and injured along with two adults in their car in the 8300 block of 1st Avenue North.
No one has been arrested in these cases.
A sixth child under the age of 10 was shot and injured in the 200 block of Boxwood Circle on Feb. 27. Two people were arrested in that case and the incident will not be part of the reward fund.
The rewards will be offered through Crime Stoppers. People with information about the cases can call 205-254-7777.
The organizations and faith leaders involved in the Gun Violence Against Children Fund include:
- 45th Street Baptist, Pastor Andra Sparks
- Birmingham Islamic Society, Ashfaq Taufique
- Birmingham Metro Baptist Association
- Church of the Highlands, Pastor Chris Hodges
- Faith Chapel, Pastor Mike Moore
- Faith Walkers Church, Pastor Kelvin Bryant
- Greater New Heights Missionary Baptist, Pastor Alphonso Bowen
- Greater Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church, Pastor Michael Wesley
- Guiding Light Church, Bishop Jim Lowe, Sr.
- Independent Presbyterian Church
- More Than Conquerors, Pastor Steve Green
- Mt. Zion Cathedral, Bishop Awalski Moore
- New Rising Star Church, Pastor Thomas Beavers
- Rebirth Christian Fellowship, Pastor Doug Taylor
- Refresh Church, Bishop Stephen Davis
- Revelation Church Ministries, Pastor Mike McClure, Sr.
- The Rock Church, Pastor Mike McClure, Jr.
- Sardis Missionary Baptist, Rev. Kurt Clark
- Sixth Avenue Baptist, Pastor John Cantelow III
- Temple Beth-El, Rabbi Steven Slater
- Trinity Baptist, Rev. John King
- Unitarian Universalist Church of Birmingham, Rev. Julie Conrady
- Vapor Thrift Store, Church of the Highlands
- The Worship Center, Bishop Van Moody