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Church Leaders Call For Action After Pensacola Student Is Shot

Bob Barrett

Shaquille Purifoy, a 20 year old graduate of Pine Forest High School who went on to play football for Grambling State University was shot Friday night in Pensacola.

He died Saturday at Sacred Heart Hospital. In reaction to the shooting, church and community leaders held a Stop The Violence meeting Monday morning at St. John Divine Missionary Baptist Church in Pensacola.

"I don't want retaliation. I don't want revenge. I want cease fire!" said Robert Gross, Shaquille Purifoy's father, as he addressed the crowd of about three dozen at Monday morning's gathering.

Churches from around Pensacola were represented at the meeting and spoke about the need for action to curb gun violence. Bishop Charles Young, Pastor of the Deliverance Tabernacle Christian Center called out government leaders and members of the affected neighborhoods to speak out and demand action.  Most of the speakers called for more funding for government programs but also called on people to get involved and join with police and community leaders and stop looking the other way about crime.  They also noted that they have been down this road many times before.

Credit Bob Barrett / WUWF News
Escambia County Commission Chairman Lumon May and Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward both attended the meeting, but neither addressed the crowd.

Pastor Lutimothy May of the Friendship Missionary Baptist Church and the brother of County Commission  Chairman Lumon May, said after dealing with "two or three (shootings) per year, per church, you get to the place where you say 'when are we going to say something, and when is it going to stop?'"  He said accountability should be spread across all parts of the community.

For his part, Escambia County Commission Chairman Lumon May agrees. He, Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward and Escambia County Sheriff, David Morgan attended the meeting but did not address the crowd. Afterward, Commissioner May said more money needs to be made available to help problem neighborhoods in the county.

Late Saturday, the Escambia County Sheriff's office announced the arrest of 39 year old Xavier Moore for the shooting of Shaquille Purifoy. He is being held in the Escambia County Jail.

Bob Barrett has been a radio broadcaster since the mid 1970s and has worked at stations from northern New York to south Florida and, oddly, has been able to make a living that way. He began work in public radio in 2001. Over the years he has produced nationally syndicated programs such as The Environment Show and The Health Show for Northeast Public Radio's National Productions.