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Roanoke churches remember 11-year-old Kahlil Burt

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ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - Churches around Roanoke are addressing gun violence after an 11-year-old boy was killed by a 10-year-old Thursday.

Police saID the two boys, who are related, were playing with a handgun.

One woman, who knows the family, saID she hopes through an immense tragedy, their community can come closer.

Shanika Gilbert, who is close to the aunt of 11-year-old Kahlil Burt, said this isn't the first time her neighborhood has lost someone to gun violence.

Now, at her church Paradise Cathedral, the congregation is trying engage kids in the community in a positive way.

"We're going to make it through anything that we endure in this community," said Gilbert.

Gilbert said Sunday morning, all minds in the Melrose neighborhood of Roanoke were on the family of Kahlil Burt.

"My heart really goes out to the mother because anyone that has to endure these types of things. I wish there was more we could do for her besides just prayer, but we're here for her," said Gilbert.

Gilbert knows how supportive her neighborhood can be.

She needed them when she lost members of her own family.

"It really is weighing on our heart because as a family we have had to experience this. We have buried 3, not 2 but 3 and so if there is a way that we can come up with a conclusion to maybe prevent these things to ever happen again," said Gilbert.

Bishop Joseph Mayo at Paradise Cathedral said the community has been searching for that conclusion for a long time.

He lost his brother to gun violence in the '80's.

"I miss my brother even today, but somehow, some way, we must try to encourage the other young people to let them know that there is another side of life that is much more pleasant," said Mayo.

Mayo said there's no easy answer, but he hopes to start with education.

"I think it's about awareness and letting our young people know that it is dangerous to deal with guns, giving them another alternative," said Mayo.

That positive alternative is where Gilbert said the church can play a big role.

"We're getting ready to start lock-ins here at our church for the youth. We will be having movie nights for the youth. I'm actually reaching out to the youth for them to come to me with ideas, I want to hear what they want to do," said Gilbert.

It's not a solution that will take effect immediately, but with time and prayer, Gilbert hopes her community can change for the better.

"Give them more positive things to do with themselves, and then maybe the impact of the gun violence and things will be null and void," said Gilbert.

The police investigation into Thursday's shooting on Carroll Avenue is still ongoing.