COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
After 31 reported shootings causing 12 deaths in Columbia during 2019, a new non-profit is hoping to curb the violence.
Boone County Community Against Violence held its second meeting Sunday.
The founder, Shaunda Hamilton, became of a victim after losing her daughter Nadria Wright to gun violence in September.
Hamilton started the group originally to provide CPR training and ways to stop bleeding to individuals in the community.
"After the loss of my daughter, I know there were people there that possibly could have saved her if they had the training," Hamilton said.
The organization then grew into much more, now starting conversations with the Columbia Police Department, Columbia Public Schools and other community groups in Columbia.
"We just want the community to be a safer place," Hamilton said. "We know we can't stop violence but whatever we can do to deter it from happening."
The group also aims to work with children to provide resources and start preventing violence from a young age.
At Sunday's meeting, Columbia police lieutenant Matt Stephens answered questions and talked about concerns with the relations between the community and the department.
"He talked some of the things they are doing in the community, and we were able to share with him some of the things we see as issues with the community," Hamilton said.
Hamilton hopes to become more involved with the Columbia police department.
"We could work together to do some trainings to make the community feel comfortable," Hamilton said. "And for them to be comfortable because I can only imagine being an officer and walking up to a car ... you know you want they want to go home to their family as well."
Hamilton's son Shawntez Wells was at the meeting. He spoke about losing his sister to gun violence.
"It's really affected me and my family and I know that there are other families that are affected by this, especially in this most recent year," Wells said. "I just want people to know there is help. I think there is something we can do to reduce this."
He said he was there to support his mother and to come together with the community and police to start making reducing crime.
"I see families crying all the time and going through a loss," Wells said. "We need to come together as a community and cooperate with police so these crimes can be solved and these families can have closure."
The next meeting is scheduled for February 9th. Hamilton said there are volunteer opportunities and anyone who want to get involved can email YourBCCAV@gmail.com.