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Roanoke church urges action after Sunday shooting

ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - Community advocates at Paradise Cathedral Church in Roanoke called for help Monday to fight violence in the City.

This comes after a 16-year-old boy was shot Sunday night near Hurt Park.

This is the 4th shooting of a juvenile in Roanoke this year alone, and community advocates, who helped organize the "Stop the Violence" event just last month, say the shooting proves more needs to be done.

Bishop Joseph Mayo says his church is already planning to open a community outreach center for teens and young adults this October, but he says, to take an immediate step toward solving what he calls a crisis, he's asking for 100 men to go out into the community and meet teenagers face to face, to help them find better, more productive directions for their lives.

"When a gun is fired in this neighborhood, it's more like a bell. A bell goes off, saying that there is another child that has been harmed that should not have been," said Mayo.

Mayo says the City of Roanoke has changed since he grew up on these streets.

"Guns was very hard to find. You just didn't have them accessible as they are today, and there's a great concern," said Mayo.

He says that greater threat of gun violence demands a greater response from leaders in the community.

"Getting into the mud with these guys and letting them know that they are somebody and we're not just talking about them, but we're talking to them to let them know that they can do better," said Mayo.

To do that, Mayo says he's looking for 100 men to take to the neighborhoods around Roanoke, talking to young men today who might potentially commit an act of violence tomorrow.

"100 men is not hard. We have already got 25 men that are working to be soldiers in this community to walk the streets, whatever we have to do, call meetings. If we have to have the Church open 24/7, the outreach center, we'll do that," said Mayo.

That outreach center is a new concept Paradise Cathedral is opening this fall.

A safe place for teens to come, filled with computers and adult mentors.

"Instead of riding around in the street with guns, they can come in here and get on the computer, look up opportunities that can help them find a job. We want to physically help them, walk them to find a job. Not just talk about a job, but take them and actually help them with their resume and take them to a job," said Mayo.

Mayo says, with the help of others in the community, he hopes his dream for the youth of Roanoke can come true before another is shot or killed in his city.

If you would like to participate and be one of those adults who helps mentor teens as part of Mayo's program, he's asking that you call or just stop by Paradise Cathedral to sign up.