Church fed up with violence near its location

November 10, 2010 8:19:19 PM PST
A pastor in northeast Houston says he's tired of the violence around his church, and he's not waiting around for a miracle to make the area safer.

It came as a startling interruption to an afternoon meeting that Rev. James Hamilton was having inside his church.

"All of a sudden there were a bunch of shots that rang out," he said.

He looked outside, and the parking lot at St. Timothy's Episcopal was full of dozens of cars and as quickly as they came he says they left.

"They run back, they jump in the cars, they squeal out, and they go both directions," Hamilton said.

Hamilton says this is at least the fourth time in a couple months he's felt like he's in the Wild West.

"This is sort of tombstone and OK Corral is across the street," Hamilton said.

He believes the culprits are dueling gangs settling grievances and they've chosen both the church's parking lot and Greenwood Park across the street to do so.

Residents as well as law enforcement say gangs do have a stronghold in the community here. Catherine Marlow hears gunshots often.

"Makes me leery to drive down the street at night, right close to where we're at here," Marlow said.

Marlow doesn't blame police; she often sees HPD officers patrolling. The problem, Rev. Hamilton says, is the violence comes and goes so quickly. He would like to see cameras posted at the park. But for now he prays no one gets hurt.

"They could shoot through the windows while shooting at somebody over here," he said.

And hopes the community outreach the church does works.

"The more they'll know about us, the more we can help them," Hamilton said.

The church organizes festivals and hosts community group meetings in an effort to build relationships, but Hamilton says he's afraid that the teens he sees out there shooting just can't be reached by that.

Houston police did respond to the shooting on Wednesday, but by the time they arrived, everyone had already scattered.


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