THOMASVILLE — The mother of a man shot recently said she had to quit her job to tend to her hospitalized son.
"My son is still breathing, but not by himself," Nikita Wade told a large crowd Thursday night at an event where the topic was violence.
Nikita Wade said she is afraid to allow her other children to leave her house.
Black and white Thomasville residents must work together to curb the violence that plagues the city, she said.
"Guns, drugs and gangs lead to violence," Police Chief Troy Rich told the large crowd gathered at the Resource Center. Thomasville has gangs, the chief said, but not as many as in neighboring cities.
Insufficient parental supervision also plays a role in the situation, Rich said.
"That's it," a woman in the audience responded.
The Rev. Charlie Ross, surrounded by 11 other ministers attending the Thursday event, said, "Parents have fumbled the ball."
A man who said he has served time in jail stated the community must work together to curb the violence.
"These little boys need a father figure in their lives," he said.
Thomasville resident Althea Smith said young people need something to look forward to, and the black community needs positive men.
A woman described shots being fired near her front doorsteps and vehicles being "shot up."
"Whatever it takes, you can depend on your Boys & Girls Club to be part of the solution," said Lee Wagner, who heads the local Boys & Girls Club.
A resident described his success as businessman today and told the crowd he used to belong to a gang and was convicted of two felonies.
"That's from an old dope dealer," he said.
Chris Baggett, a Thomasville Police Department detective and former longtime school resource officer, said he was once recruited into a gang.
"Luckily, I walked away," he said.
A man in the audience stood and asked where the drug squad is. Rich told him Sheriff Carlton Powell oversees the drug squad.
The chief told the man to contact Powell if he has concerns about a drug squad lack of presence.
"I'm sure he'll have answers," the chief said.
Andre' Marria encouraged people to "embrace" the Boys & Girls Club. The community has a number of organizations that want to help, she said.
"Find out what we're doing and help us," Marria said, adding that people should step out of their comfort zones and help.
Senior reporter Patti Dozier can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 1820