SAN ANTONIO — After four shootings in four days, young people in the Promise Zone in east San Antonio are under a great deal of stress.
Minister Darrell Boyce said his 17-year-old son was on the way to play basketball with his best friend when the teen heard gunshots. Boyce said his son rounded a corner to find his friend with a critical gunshot wound to the chest.
"I just hate for any child to see what my son saw yesterday, his best friend laying dead on the ground," Boyce said. "He actually went and took his shirt off and tried to stop the bleeding."
Boyce said a day later and after speaking with detectives, his son is still deeply shaken. “It's sad because we have to train our kids how to be field medics over here on this side of town. How do you comfort a child who sees this going on?” Boyce said.
As a minister, Boyce is accustomed to giving advice. He said now, more than ever, parents need to be supportive of their kids.
“One of the things parents should be doing is, one, telling their kids that they love them. Two, hugging their kids as much as possible. And three, letting their kids know, 'hey, you're still alive. You have to live after this traumatic thing that just happened in front of you.’ You have to let your kids know you have their back 100% of the time and point the kids in the right direction,” Boyce said.
The latest shooting incident happened Tuesday shortly before 6 p.m. San Antonio Police said a black Ford with three males who had at least one long gun opened fire on three teens standing at the corner of Hays and Lockhart.
A 16-year-old died immediately. A 20-year-old died after he was rushed to the hospital. Police said the third victim,19-year-old Paschal Evans, is still recovering.
While parents work with kids, there are trained personnel reaching out to the community at large. Violence interrupters from the Metropolitan Health Department have been at every single shooting scene during the recent rash of violence. The program is called Stand-up SA!
Coordinator Derek Taylor said the goal of the five-year-old program is to get people to talk instead of shoot.
"It doesn't have to end up with a shooting," Taylor said. "It can end up, we agree to disagree and shake hands and go about our business. That's what we would like to see."
Taylor said the local initiative was modeled after a successful effort in Chicago.
“Research has said gun violence is like a disease. If there's one shooting, just like the measles, typically it spreads to other individuals and it affects other people. That's why my staff tries to be the interrupters and stop the spread of the diseases,” Taylor said.
Still, on Wednesday, the last day of school for the San Antonio Independent School District, parents said they fear what the long, hot summer will bring in a neighborhood where better days may be on the way, but not fast enough.
Boyce said “It does not matter if they are three or 18, or if they're 21 in some cases. We have to point our kids in the right direction. And we show our kids we love you. No matter what. We love you. We stand behind you. That's the message we need to give our kids.”
Boyce said during this political season, it’s important for community leaders to step forward.
“It's vital that our leadership here in District 2 actually look at what's going on and provide programming dollars to keep our kids off the street because it’s going to take the whole community to stand up, to come out, to believe in something, to have faith,” he said.
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