‘This is a community problem:’ faith leaders, youth mentors plot next steps after deadly shooting

Two officers stand near a roadblock as police respond to a shooting on West Pensacola Street.
Two officers stand near a roadblock as police respond to a shooting on West Pensacola Street.(WCTV, Sam Thomas)
Published: Oct. 31, 2022 at 7:08 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The biggest shooting in Tallahassee in years Saturday night sent shockwaves through the community.

Youth mentors and prominent faith leaders are among those weighing in on what needs to be done to stop the shootings.

Nick Fryson owns Shear Designs barber shop on North Copeland Street. He’s also active in the community, mentoring a number of youth that also frequent his shop.

He recalled sending a few of them a text Saturday evening. It was a friendly reminder: “be careful but enjoy.”

Just a few minutes later, he received a call from one of his mentees, a 19-year-old.

“[He was] very emotional, crying, and I’m trying to figure out what’s going on,” he said.

Fryson said the teen was at a nearby gas station getting ready to end the night when shots rang out.

“He said, ‘I haven’t been shot but I was so close, I had to hide under the vehicle, and I seen bullets falling to the ground’,” he said.

The young man escaped unharmed, but was shaken.

“Had to talk to him maybe an hour or so on the phone, to help him process what happened so he can get rest at night,” he said.

Fryson believes it takes a village to find answers, and to prevent further deaths.

“Let’s change that narrative as much as possible by working together,” Fryson said.

Rev. R.B. Holmes, Jr. shares a similar opinion. Monday, he announced plans to call a meeting next week, asking faith leaders to gather to brainstorm creative solutions to an old problem.

“It’s a community problem,” Holmes said. “We’re going to think outside the box, we’re going to take ownership of this issue, and try to look at best practices. But most importantly, to have one voice to say this is a character issue.”

Dr. Holmes called on city leaders to explore new ordinances that could crack down on large parking lot gatherings.

The meeting is set for Monday Nov. 7.