Prayer vigil attendees recognize 137 Kansas City homicide victims in 2017

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Community members came together on Saturday afternoon to pray for those killed in 2017. Norton Heights Community of Christ church held a prayer vigil for all of the city’s 137 homicide victims.

“It’s really just a tragedy, of this loss of life because every life is of value, every life is important,” said Pastor Peter Judd of Norton Heights Community of Christ.

Judd says church members felt compelled to do something because of the city’s alarmingly high homicide rate. They hope that by displaying the crosses near a busy intersection in a Historic Northeast neighborhood, it sends a message to passers by.

“We hope that people will say look there’s a better way to deal with your difficulties and your disagreements and for people to choose a way of peace and reconciliation rather than the way of violence,” said Judd.

During the vigil volunteers read the name of each person who has been killed in Kansas City each year, they later distributed candles and put one up on each persons cross.

“I think it’s actually good to do something about everything that’s been going on because it gives awareness to the people and could maybe change what they think,” said Camilla Hearsch, who is attending this vigil to remember a family friend who was shot to death in October.

“It’s too many, it’s far too many. I think about their mothers, with the holidays coming up, it breaks their heart having to bury their kids and it shouldn’t be that way,” said Michael Wheeler of Kansas City.

Wheeler runs through this neighborhood everyday. He says seeing these crosses really hits home with him.

“It just hurts my heart because I’ve had violence in my family. Five members murdered down through the years and everytime I see it, it just gives me a flashback,” Wheeler explained.

The crosses will be left up for a few weeks, church members hope the display leaves an impact on people in the community.

“The future must bear hope, there must be a better way and hopefully next year there will be fewer,” Judd.