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A Tearful Mayor Woodfin Speaks in Public for First Time Since His Cousin, 5 Others Killed in Birmingham

2011
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During his report to the Birmingham City Council on Tuesday, Mayor Randall Woodfin paused several times and fought back tears as he read the names of those killed this weekend including his own cousin. (Screengrab, Birmingham City Council Livestream)

By Keisa Sharpe-Jefferson | The Birmingham Times

An emotional Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin on Tuesday recounted shootings of the past week that left six people dead, including one of his own cousins, and separately a city employee.

Speaking during his report at the weekly City Council meeting, the mayor said it was “the first time” he’d cried regarding his family’s loss because he’d been “focused on other families” who were grieving.

“For four days I haven’t shed a tear,” said Woodfin. “I’ve been worried about everybody else. For four days I haven’t had the best sleep, and when I have, I’ve had a few nightmares, because I don’t think women and unborn children should be killed. I don’t think people who just get off work and just want to hang with their family should be killed, that people who want to go get their car washed should be killed. I know you don’t believe that either.”

The mayor paused and fought back tears as he read the names of those killed.

Among the slain were Terrell Edwards, a city employee in Parks and Recreation, and his relative, Kevin McGhee, who picked up Edwards from work.

Both Edwards, 38, and McGhee, 38, along with Cortez Ray, 32, and Talton “TJ” Tait, 36, were gunned down outside a home about 2:45 p.m. in the 900 block of Center Street North, according to AL.com.

Woodfin also spoke about the killing of his own cousin, Angeliyah ne-vaeh Jolie Webster, who was pregnant, and Christan Tyre Norris, both 20, whose bodies were found about 4 p.m. Friday inside Norris’ vehicle in the 1500 block of 20th Place in Ensley.

The mayor described the challenges faced by city officials and law enforcement.  “The council, mayor’s office, BPD (Birmingham Police Department) … we charge uphill every single day where a culture supports no snitching,” he said. “There are too many people comfortable protecting shooters – housing them, giving them safe harbor, laying up with them … it’s the silence of others that know they’re doing it that’s way worse, five of them were sons, they’re also fathers and nephews and they have families.”

He also made a direct plea to those who have information. “There are too many people comfortable protecting shooters, housing them, giving them safe harbor, laying up with them, baby mamas, girlfriends, wives, whatever. Parents and siblings and friends who know what they’re doing, know they pull triggers, know they’re shooters, and give them safe haven.”

The mayor offered his support to the families of all the victims and pledged justice for those who lost loved ones.

“To all our colleagues who knew these families, the mayor’s office is with you, we’re praying with you and for you,” Woodfin said. “We will continue to do everything to bring the swiftest justice, and some form of relief for these families, by catching the perpetrators who did this. We need the community’s help.”

Police ask anyone with information to call the BPD Homicide Unit at 205-254-1764 or CrimeStoppers at 205-254-7777.