ST. LOUIS — Community members gathered Tuesday night for a powerful, moving and sad event that included the reading of the names of more than 100 children in the St. Louis area who lost their lives to gun violence in the in the last four years.
Just one day after a mass shooting at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School, the Interfaith Vigil to Save Children's Lives was held at Mount Bethel Missionary Baptist Church.
"Miriam Jones,17 years old. Corey Peterson, 2 years old. Alexzandria Bell, 15 years old," a speaker read during Tuesday's event.
Bell was an outgoing 10th grader who was shot and killed Monday morning at CVPA. Several of her classmates were also seriously wounded.
"We are not only here to mourn but to take action," said the Rev. Maurice McDaniel of Mount Bethel Missionary Baptist Church.
People from different churches, synagogues and parishes united and introduced an Interfaith Gun Safety Initiative.
"We know that the faith community alone cannot stop gun violence, but we can take some steps to help keep our children safe," McDaniel said.
The interfaith group remembered the many innocent faces of children as their pictures hung on the church's wall. They also spoke out against the ongoing gun violence.
As of Tuesday, more than 100 kids have been in the city, and fourteen of them died.
"I believe if we actually commit to our next steps, we can make real change," said Marharat Rori Picker Neiss with the Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis.
The group also passed out free gun locks to parents.
"All firearms must be secured safely to prevent unauthorized and accidental use, especially by children," U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri Saylor Fleming said at the event.
As one pastor put it, "we don't want to keep reading our kids' names like this."
More than 100 people attended the event.
A balloon release and candlelight vigil will be held 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School.