Group holds prayer vigil to remember homicide victims - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Group holds prayer vigil to remember homicide victims

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Young Blessed performing at Gates Park homicide vigil on Saturday. Young Blessed performing at Gates Park homicide vigil on Saturday.
Dozens of people gathered around an Oak tree at Gates Park to remember homicide victims across Black Hawk County. Dozens of people gathered around an Oak tree at Gates Park to remember homicide victims across Black Hawk County.
The Union Baptist Crusaders performed at Gates Park on Saturday. The Union Baptist Crusaders performed at Gates Park on Saturday.
Dozens of people gathered around an Oak tree at Gates Park to remember homicide victims across Black Hawk County. Dozens of people gathered around an Oak tree at Gates Park to remember homicide victims across Black Hawk County.
WATERLOO (KWWL) -

Dozens of people gathered around an Oak tree at Gates Park to remember homicide victims across Black Hawk County.

Areus McCullough of Waterloo was one of them.

"There's got to be a better purpose to this life than to run around here and act like everybody's tougher than the next, that's not what life is about and not what it should be about," he said.

McCullough, also known as "Young Blessed," said his goal is to create a positive movement in Waterloo.

"I'm tired of the violence. Very tired of the violence," he said. "I'm tired of our youth getting killed over nonsense."

James Evans, brother of the murdered 22-year old Shantorio Evans, attended Saturday's vigil.

"A lot of people do forget," he said. "It's easy when you're not the family going through it, it's easy to just get up and move on with your life, and you know we're still suffering. I mean, it's been a while, but it's still fresh in our memory."

Erick Gafeney helped organize Saturday's event.

He said in the past 40-years, there have been more than 400 homicides. According to Gafeney, more than 25 of those are still unsolved.

Gafeney hopes Saturday's event, and an oak tree that was planted at Gates Park a year ago, will remind people of the unsolved murders.

Brennan Smith-Hargrove is helping raise money for more memorials, including a plaque and photos of homicide victims, at Gates Park.

"We need to bring awareness to homicide victims in the Waterloo area," he said.

He said the group hopes to have an account set up at Veridian Credit Union in the next week, but in the meantime anyone who wishes to provide a donation can email him at b.smithhargrove@gmail.com

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