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Community gathers for prayer vigil near site of latest Columbus homicide

Some 20 people gathered at noon Friday at the site of Columbus' most recent homicide for a prayer vigil, asking God to heal the community and pledging to change the city for the better.

The hourlong vigil was spearheaded by the Columbus branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Local President Nate Sanderson asked those present to lead their own prayer near the spot where 19-year-old Antonio Deshawn Robinson was fatally shot April 21 at Brown Avenue and George Street.

Friday's gathering came two days after several people met at the same spot to address the rash of violent deaths.

Robinson's great aunt Glinda Lockett spoke after Friday's vigil, saying prayer will change Columbus.

"I want this to stop in this community," Lockett said of the violence. "I want to make a difference. If they can start this, we can stop it."

Richard Jessie, the local NAACP's second vice president, said the vigil called attention to the three homicides in Columbus this month.

"We need to call this community back to God," Jessie said. "That's the answer to change anything."

Jessie was one of many who led the group in prayer. He spoke of overcrowded prisons, poverty and unemployment. Jessie also said too many parents don't know how to raise their children.

"We've got too many parents who know their children are armed," he added.

Linda Robinson, of no relation to Antonio Robinson, said she's known the family of the deceased since she was a child. She prayed that those responsible for the city's homicides would find God.

"Our children are the future of the world," she said.

Sanderson said Friday's gathering showed it was time for everyone to begin work on improving Columbus.

"It's time for us to get busy in the community," he said. "The first thing before you start working is you pray. Nobody wants violence in the community."