Ex-con turned pastor holds ‘Hope Fest’ after quadruple shooting

Posted at 5:57 PM, Jun 17, 2017

RICHMOND, Va. -- A pastor that lived a life of selling drugs and prison terms organized a festival to reach out to the community on Richmond's Northside on Saturday.

"I was arrested for selling and distributing crack cocaine. I was part of the problem in our community," Pastor James Wilkins of Nehemiah House of Prayer admitted.

Wilkins organized Hope Fest at Pine Camp Park alongside the Richmond Police Department, Richmond Department of Parks and Rec and other charity organizations from across the city.

"There’s so much tragedy, crime, violence, and anger that we get desensitized to what’s going on in our communities," Wilkins said. "We have had enough of these tragedies to sit down and do nothing."

Hope Fest was just a two-minute drive down Old Brook Road from the scene of Thursday night's quadruple shooting.

The call for police first stemmed from a report of a fight in the 4000 block of Old Brook Road; then neighbors reported dozens of gunshots.

 Pastor James Wilkins of Nehemiah House of Prayer

Pastor James Wilkins of Nehemiah House of Prayer

A teenage female, one of the four victims wounded in the shooting, was killed. She was later identified by police as 18-year-old Jacquesha "Billie" Clanton of the 2300 block of North 29th Street.

The three remaining victims were treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

While Hope Fest was scheduled before the tragic shooting, Wilkins said it was in God's plans to bring awareness of the growing problem.

"He knew we were having this here today," Wilkins said. "Why he doesn’t stop things, I don’t know."

Along with free food and music, children who attended were entered into a raffle for free bikes and gift cards.

Speaking directly to Richmond's criminals, Wilkins warned, "I tell anyone committing crimes, stop, because you’re committing them against all of us. Whatever you’re doing that’s against the law it’s going to catch up to you at some point."

Jacquesha "Billie" Clanton

Jacquesha "Billie" Clanton

Quadruple Shooting Update

Clanton's death is the 35th homicide this year and she was the third teen to die in within 10 days. This year six teens have died, four of those teens died in double homicides.

Chief Alfred Durham said he believes apps like Facebook is driving the youth violence.

"We are seeing too much of that especially involving our young people and their use of social media," Durham said.

The chief also said as part of the homicide investigation of Clanton, the department has seen several Facebook Live videos the victim posted on the social media site the day she was killed.

In one of those videos, Clanton was in a car with friends and talked about wanting to know who wants to fight her.

Durham cautioned parents, "know who their friends are and look at their cell phones. I think if you’re paying the bill I think you have a right to look at their cell phones."

Durham reported they have not identified a shooter but said investigators are "impressed" with the amount of tips they've received from the public.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call Major Crimes Detective R. Wigfall at 804-646-6769 or contact Crime Stoppers at 804-780-1000 or at

Submit tips to GUN250 about persons illegally possessing guns by texting Crime Stoppers at 274637, then using keyword “GUN250” followed by your tip. Rewards up to $250. Crime Stoppers methods are anonymous.



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