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Local leaders rally to end celebratory gunfire

By Mehgaan Jones

mjones@news-daily.com

"Bullets in the air, must land somewhere," said the Rev. Isaiah Waddy, decrying the frequent celebratory gunfire during the holiday season, especially around Christmas, and New Year's Eve.

Comments from the pastor of Greater St. Peter A.M.E. Church, in Jonesboro, came during a news conference Tuesday morning, at his church. Wally rallied along with local community leaders, law enforcement officials, and other ministers, to call for an end to celebratory gunfire.

Instead of shooting firearms into the air, "People should be sending prayers, into the air," Pastor Waddy continued.

According to Waddy, a stray bullet entered his church during the "Watch Night" service, last New Year's Eve, and barely missed his wife, Deborah Waddy, and other parishioners.

"At the initial time, it really shook us up, because someone was close to being harmed," said Waddy.

"I'll never forget that night. My wife couldn't stop trembling," he said, in a written statement.

"We were grateful no one was injured in our church, but we were sad to learn, that next day, about a falling bullet killing 4-year-old Marquel Peters," said Waddy. The boy was shot while attending a New Year's Eve church service in Dekalb County, last year.

"We really need to put an end to celebratory gunfire," said Waddy.

He said, in the weeks and months following the incident at his Jonesboro church, the congregation rejoiced around the fact that God protected them.

Members of the Clayton County Black Ministers Fellowship, and The Youth Connection -- a program that mentors "at-risk" children, who have incarcerated parents -- joined the initiative, on Tuesday.

State Sen. Gail Davenport, Clayton County Sheriff Kem Kimbrough and several local religious leaders, also spoke at the event. "I was happy to be there with the members of the church, Rev. Waddy, and The Clayton County Black Ministers Fellowship," said Kimbrough. "We want people to celebrate, but they need to put down the guns."