RED SPRINGS, NC (WBTW) – A Robeson County town called for peace Thursday while mourning the shooting death of a young boy.
Five-year-old Alva “A.J.” Oxendine was brought to the Red Springs Police Department after he was shot last week, before dying in a Lumberton hospital. Eight days later, dozens of people living in that part of Robeson County gathered Thursday to mourn, but also call for recent violence to stop.
The town of about 3,000 people is trying to heal from what some say is a rise in violence.
“Let your family, let your friends know, let your coworkers know that we can do better and that we want to do better here in Robeson County,” said Mayor Edward Henderson.
The town held an emotional vigil one week after Oxendine was shot and killed.
He was in the back seat of his mother’s car, while two groups of people were fighting.
“There’s no amount of bullets and not enough guns to solve the problem that we have,” said Caroline Sumpter, a town commissioner who helped organize the vigil. “It’s a heart problem.”
Many residents say adults need to provide more activities for kids so they avoid getting pulled into crime.
“The kids are about to get out of school and what do they really have to do outside of walking outside?” said Brian Fairbanks, who’s the president of a group in the town called Roots of the Community. “That’s really on us.”
A.J.’s mother Delicia was at Thursday’s vigil and released a balloon in her son’s memory.
“As long as we live, we’ll never forget A.J.,” said Sumpter, while holding Delicia’s hand during the vigil.
Residents say they want to make sure another tragedy like this doesn’t happen again.
“When you see something wrong or you see something going on, try and prevent it,” said Ethan Quick of Red Springs.
The Robeson County Sheriff’s Office is still investigating last week’s shooting and so far, there’s no word of any arrests or charges.