That’s what a friend told Pastor Bernard Rawls this morning in the wake of another shooting on Mission Street.
Rawls lives on Mission Street with his wife and children. It’s also where his church, New Day Christian Ministries, is located. He was one of the first on the scene of the multiple shooting last night where one of the victims, Naji Love, 18, of Montclair, was seriously injured (this afternoon, police shared that Love is in stable condition).
“I heard six gun shots, rapid shots, and I checked to make sure that my 17-year-old son, who has an 11 o’clock curfew, was home. Then I called 911 and saw one individual laying there. His mother came out and was hysterical,” says Rawls, who has a law enforcement background and worked a police officer in Florida, tried to keep the victims calm and conscious until help arrived. “I told them “we’re here, we love you.”
The morning after the shooting, Rawls spoke about mobilizing the local churches and taking some kind of action, including a solidarity walk, but he added, “I don’t just want to walk, I want to give these kids options.”
“The saddest thing for me is, you walk this block and there’s seven churches. You mean to tell me that someone can’t be open after hours where they can hang out? The worst thing that any person can ever fathom is to come outside on your front step and find your son lying there bleeding.”
Rawls says he doesn’t yet know what will be done, but knows it will take people coming together and crossing racial, gender, religious and economic boundaries because, “a bullet has no name, and I don’t want anyone else to be a victim.”
Mission Street has been Rawls’ home for the last five years; on the side of his house this morning, he noticed what he believes to be two bullet holes, information he shared with the police.
Taking stock of the shootings and crime on or near Mission Street over the years (the related shooting on Elmwood Ave., a shooting in June, a hit and run in July and a murder last year), Rawls wondered how so much crime can be concentrated on a tiny, one-way street and worried that people in the neighborhood feel nothing will ever change.
“The sad part is people aren’t shocked. Don’t get me wrong, they’re upset, but they’re more mad, and that’s my fear. Not mad at the police, but [feeling] what are we going to do about it.”
“People have said to me ‘you have the ability to leave Mission, so why don’t you leave Mission'” says Rawls of his street. “I tell them I can’t, because Mission needs us here.”