ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) – Gun violence remains a hot topic in the City of Roanoke. On Tuesday a nine-member commission met to discuss ways to reduce incidents. Recently, city officials hired a youth and gang violence prevention coordinator to help suppress shootings.

“In 2019, a member of our church was actually killed due to gun violence, Salonya Evans,” said Bishop J.L. Jackson, pastor of ReFreshing Church.

Salonya Evans, a 24-year-old mother and certified nursing assistant, was gunned down in July 2019 on Morehead Avenue SE just steps away from her home.

“Her case is still unsolved. It’s still a cold case,” Jackson said.

Most recently, the city saw a shooting in the 4100 block of Melrose Avenue NE on Sunday, Oct. 10. Police found an unresponsive man who had been shot inside a parked vehicle.

“I think it’s going to take us stopping us. It’s not a Black issue. It’s not a white issue. It’s not a quadrant issue. It’s not a northwest, northeast, southeast issue. It’s an issue in the valley,” Jackson said.

The Peacemakers will host a ‘United Against Gun Violence’ anti-violence march on Saturday, Oct. 16 as a way for the organization to put their words into action.

“I hate to see mothers and daughters and sons lose loved ones behind senseless violence,” said Shawn Hunter, president of the Peacemakers, Inc. in Roanoke. “Accepting Challenges To Improve Our Neighborhood, that’s action. And we’re putting action. We’re not just talking.”

The grassroots community organization is asking community members to meet in the parking lot of Goodwill located at 514 24th Street NW at 11 a.m. on Saturday.

In addition to a march, Hunter says several speakers will share personal stories of how gun violence has impacted their lives and why it needs to end.

“We know that the police cannot do it all by themselves, so we collectively in the community have to come together and do our part,” said Hunter.

“It’s COMM-UNITY,” Jackson said. “It’s us coming together in unity to hit this on and make sure we don’t deal with this anymore.”

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