Roanoke turns to storytelling, music to heal wounds of gun violence

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Through storytelling, song, dance, prayer, and more, dozens gathered Sunday to heal the wounds of gun violence in the Roanoke community.

With grief counselors on-hand, the William Fleming auditorium became a sanctuary for siblings, parents, children, friends, and loved ones.

Each of their stories different, but almost all having one thing in common: a call to curb gun violence in the area.

Nineteen-year-old Tenysia Rivera says she remembers being told of her father’s murder when she was only eight.

“My dad was killed by a man with a gun at a convenience store,” she said. “He took a gun and he shot him.”

Shirley Petty says she recalls a chilling phone call, 25 years after having a gun held to her head.

“I received a phone call from carilion hospital saying that my son was there from multiple gunshot wounds,” she said. “That is the phone call no mother wants to receive.”

Sunday’s “Roanoke Remembers” event aimed to bring survivors into one room, along with area leaders, performers, clergy, and more.

At the auditorium’s entrance was a memorial wall, including a tribute to Salem High School graduate Jake Aldridge, who died a year ago Friday.

“Jake was a loving, caring person. Never met a stranger. Would do anything for anybody,” said David Mitchell, Jake’s stepfather.

A sign above his picture reads “At least seven people live on because of you and your generous spirit.”

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