Community members hope to bring peace and justice amid an increase in violence

(Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - The Star City is coming together in hopes of fighting violent crime. Statistics from police show that homicides and some gun-related crimes are higher than average this year. One parent whose child died in the shooting at Monsterz Bar and Grill in September said it's important for the community to come together in peace.

Angela Hopson said she wants to see justice served in the death of her son, Jermaine Black.The 26-year-old was shot and killed when a gunman opened fire at Monsterz and 10 others were injured. Police made one arrest in the case, but the charges were dropped due to a lack of evidence.

"Somebody has got to pay the price for what they did to my son," said Hopson.

Jermaine's death is one of the rising number of homicides and gun-related crimes in Roanoke. Now, community groups are among those taking steps to help police reduce violence.

On Friday, United Black Veterans Society of Virginia held a prayer vigil and walk for justice and peace. Organizers hoped to raise awareness about topics such as veteran's issues and police community relations.

"We want the people here to know we care and we can survive anything if we unite and stay together and work as a community." said Deborah Saunders, event organizer.

Community leaders said it's going to take a Valley-wide effort to keep people safe.

"The victim has to be willing to say this has happened to me and they have to have enough trust with our law enforcement to know they are going to be taken care of and protected," said Roanoke City Councilwoman Michelle Dykstra, "If you are a victim of a crime you have to be able to come forward with that information."

Hopson hopes to someone will come forward soon with information about Jermaine's death.

"Maybe somebody will feel my heart and know what I'm feeling and come forth. Because it hurts there's not a day it doesn't hurt," Hopson said.

On Wednesday, November 9, Jermaine's family and friends will have a balloon release at Williams Memorial in honor of Jermaine. He would have turned 27 on November 10. The balloon release is scheduled for 6 p.m. and is open to the public. Loved ones are asking people to arrive at 5:30 p.m.