CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Family, neighbors, friends and community activists gathered outside 3-year-old Asiah Figueroa’s northwest Charlotte home Wednesday evening, to remember the little boy and to speak out against gun violence.
In the blink of an eye Tuesday night, his mother and father’s worst nightmare became a reality. Figueroa, who was asleep in his bed at his home on Richard Rozzelle Drive, was killed when gunfire erupted.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department says nearly 150 bullets were sprayed into his home, which also injured Figueroa’s 4-year-old sister.
The sound of that gunfire may never be forgotten, but Wednesday -- if only for a brief time – it was silenced and replaced with sounds of a community rallying together against the violence.
There was prayer.
“God we’re sick of it, we’re tired and we need you to show up, even right now,” said a pastor in front of the crowd of roughly 50 people who had gathered.
The crowd then held a balloon release.
Figueroa's father so overcome with emotion at one point, a woman in the crowd, asked the men “to surround this daddy in love y’all. All the men, you have to strengthen him and build him up.”
One by one the men surrounded him, giving him the strength to release his balloon into the air. Figueroa's mother was also there heartbroken and sobbing, at times finding it hard to stand.
In addition to showing their love and support for the family, the community at the vigil spoke out against the violence.
“I am asking for all parents around the world to start taking responsibility of their child’s actions because it starts at home,” said Andrea Walker, a friend of the family.
CMPD says they believe the shooters could be teenage students connected to three Charlotte high schools including Hopewell High, North Mecklenburg High, and Chambers High, formerly Vance.
“What we have to start doing, the grassroots part of this work -- and that’s being here and knowing what's going on and keeping our ears to the streets and working with these young people, because they're going to be adults one day, if they live to see it,” Leondra Garrett with the United Neighborhoods of Charlotte said.
CMPD says no arrests have been made.
In the meantime, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools said Hopewell and North Mecklenburg high schools had added security since Tuesday, and that it will remain all week.
They also say a random security screening was conducted at Hopewell High Wednesday morning. They say no weapons were found.
Anyone with information can leave an anonymous tip by calling CMPD crime stoppers at 704-334-1600.