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'It's heartbreaking': Richmond women push to prevent youth violence after shooting

'It's heartbreaking': Richmond women push to prevent youth violence after shooting
Posted at 5:15 PM, Nov 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-18 18:13:38-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- In the days following a deadly shooting at a Richmond convenience store that left two children dead, community activists are taking action. Two local women are calling on others to help prevent youth from committing and falling victim to gun violence.

“It’s the kids killing the kids, and we have to sit back and ask ourselves as parents and adults, why?" Latisha Carson reflected.

The Richmond mother runs a non-profit called Exquisite Community Solutions in North Chesterfield.

“You have a lot of kids that are just being stuck in their homes, they have no outlet and then you have kids that are grieving because someone they love died," Carson said.

That includes a 9-year-old and 14-year-old who were gunned down at OMG Convenience Store on Nine Mile Road Friday. All four of the suspects charged with their deaths are teenagers.

Victims of Nine Mile Road shooting
14-year-old Rah’quan Logan and 9-year-old Abdul Bani Ahmad.

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The arrests highlight a trend seen across Richmond. According to the Major Crimes Unit at Richmond Police, 69 people have been killed in the city this year. 33 cases have been marked clear. Among those cases, there were ten teenage suspects and 12 suspects in their early to mid-’20s.

“It’s heartbreaking,” Carson said. “It's our job as adults, as grown people to address the concerns and provide a solution.”

Solutions are exactly what Carson and Jonita James, founder and director of philanthropy, are working on. They provide resources and programs to youth in lower-income communities.

“They are in need of different educational pieces, they need the recreational piece,” said James. “But a lot of the violence, I believe, stems from just the need for mental health assessments.”

Carson and James partner with other organizations, businesses and leaders to address a wide range of needs that are particular to each child. They address literacy issues, job insecurity and get youth involved in extracurricular activities that provide positive outlets.

“We can't do it without you,” Carson pleaded. “It's our job in a community to make changes”

To drum up support, they’ve launched the initiative “We Are Stronger Together” to call on the community to step up and help children who are vulnerable to violence.

“We can't change the past,” James said. “But what we can do is show up today in the present and take the necessary steps to provide solutions.”

One way you can help is by purchasing a ticket to the first-ever Exquisite Community Solutions Gala. The event will be held on December 9 at the Robinson Theater and will feature live entertainment, dinner and a cash bar. Proceeds will support the non-profit's mission to combat violence.

If you would like to partner with Exquisite Community Solutions, you can email exquisitecommsolutions@gmail.com.