Dayton minister Caleb Ingram said the community will need time to heal, but hours after a gunman killed nine and wounded nearly 30 in Dayton’s Oregon District, he urged those gathered at an informal prayer vigil not to let fear win.
“We will not succumb to fear,” the executive director of Declare Worship Community said. “I don’t want to hear people say, ‘Oh, we can’t go to Dayton anymore; we are afraid of what might happen. We can’t go to Levitt Pavilion anymore; we are afraid. We can’t got to the Oregon District anymore; we are afraid.’ We are not going to give fear an opportunity.”
Ingram and Joel Burton of Simple Street Ministry led the vigil at Levitt Pavilion at Dave Hall Plaza featuring song, poetry, prayer and speakers from multiple faiths.
The venue is located across from the Dayton Convention Center, a meeting place for family members who had loved ones involved in the mass shooting that sent shock waves through the community.
“Just don’t stop loving people,” Burton said following the vigil.
The Oregon District Business Association will host a candlelight vigil tonight at 8 p.m. on Fifth Street featuring elected officials and business owners.
Access to the Oregon District residential area will be limited during the vigil for security reasons.
DaQuawna Farrow, a community volunteer and elder at Restoration Church, said the community came together when 15 Memorial Day tornadoes swept through the Miami Valley.
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“This is the opportunity for us to rise to the occasion and to be the resilient people that we have been,” she said. “I just declare life and peace over the city of Dayton. I want to pray with you all because I believe change is coming. Change is on the way. ”
Community activist Nozipo Glenn, a native of Cape Town, South Africa, said she knows two people related to shooting victims.
“Even if you didn’t know the person yourself, even if they were not in your particular family, someone you know knew that person,” Glenn said. “It affects us all.”
She said her culture, the Xhosa people, follows the principle that you can’t be a human being by yourself.
“You depend on other human beings. When we talk about love other human beings, we are not just talking about hugging each other,” she said. “Love means taking care of each other. It means that when I hurt, you hurt. You hurt, I hurt.”
Kettering resident Darlene Weimer was among the roughly 250 people to brave the heat to attend the vigil.
She said the community has been battered by back-to-back tragedies, but has remained strong and unified after the tornadoes.
“Things that you see on the news — that just does not happen in our community,” said Weimer, who was recently diagnosed with stage three cancer. “I just wanted to come down here and be strong. We are Dayton Strong, it is who we are. We’ve come this far, we can come a little bit farther. We can show the rest of the world who our god is.”
Dayton resident India Jones was among those who comforted a woman at the vigil who lost a cousin in the shootings.
She said the victims were innocent.
“I just pray that we come together and stop the hatred,” she said.
Dayton resident Sharon McDonley, a member of Target Dayton Ministries on Xenia Avenue, said she was at the vigil to spread God’s love. She and a group of woman cried and embraced in front of the Levitt Pavillion stage during the vigil.
“We pull together in times of tragedy,” McDonely said. “It makes us stronger.”
Natasha Hunter of Dayton and Delores Carter of Beavercreek were among those who offered a prayer during the service.
Carter said she did not know any of the victims personally, but said it is important for Daytonians to support people who have.
“There is power in numbers and support.” Carter said. “I want people to know they are loved.”
*** First report: Prayer vigil held downtown in wake of Oregon District mass shooting
Mere hours after a Dayton funk music legend entertained thousands there, Levitt Pavilion at Dave Hall Plaza is hosting a prayer vigil for those killed and injured in the Oregon District mass shooting.
>> LATEST UPDATES: Dayton Shooting: 9 victims, 1 shooter dead, 27 injured in Oregon District
Police say a gunman killed nine people in the Oregon District Sunday around 1 a.m. before being shot and killed by law enforcement.
At least 27 others were injured.
A message on Levivit’s Facebook page reads:
“Out of respect for those affected and reeling from the tragic events in our city last night, the movie night is being postponed to August 25.
Our hearts are with our downtown Dayton family and all those impacted.
There will be an informal prayer gathering on our lawn at 1 p.m. We welcome you to join us if you need to be amongst friends today.
When we have more information about a formal candlelight vigil we will share that with you.”
Levitt Pavilion is located at 134 S. Main St. in downtown Dayton.
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Musician Keith Harrison of Faze-O and Dazz Band fame performed a free show at the venue Saturday.