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Service held to honor 40 murdered in Lee County in the last year

Posted at 9:57 PM, Jan 30, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-31 00:23:25-05

Members of the Fort Myers community gathered for the 8th annual Community Prayer service to honor 40 lives lost in the last year to violence.

The ceremony was held at the Dunbar Community School auditiorium.

"Very young, tender lives that had great futures ahead of them," Pastor Gregory Ford of First Assembly Cornerstone said.

One of those lives lost was 22-year-old Raheim Fields, who was gunned down in his Campbell Acres neighborhood in December.

"I lost my grandson. For what reason? We don’t even know why, but it hurts," Janice Jackson, Raheim's grandma, told Fox 4.

Raheim's mom, Simone Campbell, said the service helps people like her, who've lost loved ones, heal.

"If you don't come out to something like this, you wouldn't know how many people are suffering through the same thing," she said.

The Community Prayer Service organizer. Taunya Cola, said the event is meant to show families like Raheim's continued support.

“When a homicide happens, people are around, but once that is over, there’s nobody there. That’s when people need them the most -- when people are gone and it’s all over," Cola said.
Another goal of the event is to find a way to stop the violence.

"We've got to deal with the gun issue. We've got to say something. We've got to get our kids more involved in things that are good for them instead of just random violence," Ford said.

Fort Myers Police Chief Derrick Diggs said during the ceremony that the city has seen a 37% decrease in murders last year.

"That's still not good enough," he said.

He said the only way to stop the violence is to come together.

"I go through every day smiling, but it’s really a painful situation not to hear that phone call, or to hear that 'mom,'" Campbell said.

Trayvon Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton, was scheduled to speak at the event Tuesday night, but didn't show up.