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'I pray that we can do something' | Monroe hits five-year high in homicides after 25-year-old woman killed

The victims and suspects in almost all of the cases are all under the age of 25. The youngest victim was 13 years old.

MONROE, N.C. — Eight months into 2021, the city of Monroe has had double the number of homicides than it had in 2020 -- from two people killed last year up to four people killed so far in 2021.

Police say the latest victim is 25-year-old Desha Franklin, who was shot and killed on Sunday, Aug. 8.  Police are still looking for her killer.

"I pray that we can do something so there would be no more mothers crying and burying their kids," said Michael Rushing, a community activist with an organization called Communiversity of Monroe. 

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Rushing did three stints in prison before the age of 30. By then, he realized he needed to change his life.

“I don’t want my son to go to prison three times to realize this isn’t the life we should be living," said Rushing, who wants to help his own five sons and the other children of Monroe avoid the path he took.

Rushing and co-founder Selina Campbell launched the organization to help youth find an outlet instead of turning to the streets and violence. 

“If we can reach the youth, we can then reach the parents," Campbell said, "and continue to have that engagement. The goal is to be proactive and not reactive.” 

The pair had their first March Against Violence in April, followed by another one in May. They work with youth through workshops and mentorships.  They also hope to buy a building in Monroe to have a place for young people to gather and learn outside of school.

So far, they have raised about $40,000, but they need at least $40,000 more to finalize the purchase.

“It can be done. We just need people that’s driven like us, that love our people like us, that want to see it stop like us," said Rushing. 

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Monroe leaders agree with the activists, saying it'll take the entire community to stop the shootings and deaths. 

Pete Hovanec, the communications director for the City of Monroe, says detectives with the Monroe Police Department need more people to tell them what they know. 

"Folks are seeing these things happen. Folks are knowing that these things are happening in their front yards, in their backyards," Hovanec said, "and we’re not getting the cooperation to bring justice to these victims that we need to.” 

The City of Monroe plans to address these issues at its next Public Safety Committee Meeting on Monday, Aug. 16. 

In the meantime, a vigil was held in honor of Franklin on Tuesday night. Her loved ones said she was fun and full of life -- saying her life was taken too soon.

Contact Indira Eskieva at ieskieva@wcnc.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram.

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