NEW ORLEANS – Hundreds of neighbors, family members, and community leaders gathered to remember Arabian Gayles, 11, and plea with the public to stop the violence.
“Prayer changes things, prayer makes a way, and we're going to pray again,” said Kevin Matthews, minister at New Hope Baptist Church.
And the night was about prayer for hundreds who gathered in the 1300 block of General Ogden Street. They prayed for a little girl lost before her time, and for the grieving family she leaves behind.
“They killing the babies. Stop the violence. What's so bad you can't talk about it? You got to stop the violence, that's important,” said Arabian’s cousin, Norlean Carter.
A stray bullet killed 11-year-old Arabian Gayles in her sleep early Monday. Her cousin, Paulreiona Cary, 11, was hit in the arm and elbow. A 38-year-old man survived a gunshot wound to the back while walking outside.
Tuesday, the community lit candles in honor of Arabian, and marched against violence, but says it can’t stop here.
“We [are] for recreations in our neighborhoods,” said Douglas Patterson, minister at Jesus Never Fails Christian Center, and member of NOLA for Life. “We want to see the kids having something to do year-round.”
The loss is staggering. Arabian's pregnant mother was so distraught during the vigil, she fainted and was taken away by ambulance.
Arabian's young friends are struggling to cope.
“We're like two sisters from another mother. It really hurt me because I didn't think it was time for her to go yet,” said Armani Hooks, 13. “Why did they do that to her? She didn't do anybody anything, like she was so nice and why would they do that? Like, she didn't deserve to lose her life.”
As police continue to search for the shooters, a memorial grows outside the home where Arabian was killed while the community grieves.
“To get this news about this child, I cried. I'm a big man but it affects me as well,” said Pastor Jeffrey G. Davis, of the nearby True Light Ministries Church. “I feel it's important that this family knows that people are behind them in this time of crisis, this time of tragedy.”
Arabian’s funeral is set for Sept. 14 at Prayer Tower Church in Christ on Willow Street. You can make a donation toward her funeral expenses at any Whitney Bank.
If you have any information that could lead to the shooters, call Crimestoppers at (504) 822-111. You don’t have to leave your name and could get a $5,000 cash reward.