AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - An Amarillo community is calling for a change after Friday’s shooting at the Hogg Penn in North Amarillo.
Civil leaders, church leaders and members of the Hamlet and North Heights neighborhoods came together Sunday afternoon at Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church in what they’re calling an ‘emergency meeting’ after an act of violence in their community.
Sunday's meeting opened the floor to dozens of Amarillo residents as they shared their opinions and ideas on how to curb the crime that seems to be at an all-time high.
“Any shooting is an alarm, but a mass shooting, it’s almost unfathomable to think that this has happened on our watch,” said small business owner Keith Grays. “For the past 18 months, we’ve suffered homicides in after hours clubs. And fortunately we have a Chief of Police who is very on-task and has communicated with those of us who own small businesses and how do we help deter these types of heinous crimes.”
Amarillo Police Chief Ed Drain was invited to the meeting and spoke about the establishments law enforcement has shut down due to various illegal activity.
But he said there’s a better chance of preventing violence if this issue is treated as a ‘community problem’.
“Bottom line is, we have got to stop supporting these businesses that are unsafe,” said Drain. “When you go to those places, when your kids go to those places, when your siblings go to those places, they are taking a risk. That’s all I can tell you. And we need more in our community to speak out against these places being open. Again, I’m not talking about a venue like Keith has that closes on time and it gets the proper permits when they do things. I’m talking about these pop up bars or pop up clubs.”
While the victims of Friday morning’s shooting varied in age, many expressed the need to reach out to teenagers and young adults so don’t end up in the same situation.
“People are enthusiastic about getting out there, putting things to work ‚wanting better for our children, our children are important,” said Pastor of Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church Thomas Sands. “What I see today is that there’s going to be more unity in our community, especially in Hamlet’s.”
Grays said this is the first of several meetings they will have to discuss this issue and come up with a plan of action.
They hope to have the next meeting sometime later this month.