Residents, religious leaders speak out against gun violence after East Knoxville double homicide

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Local religious leaders and residents in the East Knoxville community are speaking out following a shooting that took two lives over the weekend.

Juanita Thomas lives on Ben Hur street, where the shooting happened. She says the violence is becoming worse and she’s ready to move.

“I feel sad, hurt. It’s a lot of emotions going through me right now,” Thomas said.

Jimmy and Belinda Penrose live right next to the home where the shooting occurred. They say they’re tired of the constant violence and death.

“I just want people to come back together with love. Love will stop all this. Because people have to suffer, their families have to suffer. Mommies and daddies and sisters and brothers are the ones that have to suffer when this person is gone,” Jimmy said.

“It’s just not okay and you know it sends out a signal to say that it’s okay to get out and do something like this if no one does anything about it,” Belinda said.

Local religious leaders are speaking out as well; calling for an end to the violence. Daryl Arnold, Senior pastor of Overcoming Believers Church says this has been happening for too long.

“Of course it’s heartbreaking, we’ve experienced so many things with COVID, social injustice and violence that it’s just another brick that is building a wall between us,” Arnold said.

Not even two months after Honey Rock Church Minister, Lawrence Williams organized a unity march to end gun violence in this same community, tragedy strikes. He says now its up to local church leaders to step up and step in.

“We want folks to come to the church, but we aren’t willing to come out here to the people. we have a church on every corner and all this killing is going on. something is not right,” Williams said.

Being from this community, this cause hits close to home for Williams.

“I’m from the streets and I’m very passionate about what’s going on in our community. So it’s going to take all of us to come together in love and in unity and stop some of this stuff that’s going on,” Williams said.

At last check with Knoxville Police, there were no suspects in custody. The investigation is ongoing.

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