Community mourns loss of teen after Friday shooting
By WVUA 23 News Reporter Jacyn Abbott
A 13-year-old dead in another senseless act of violence. A son. A brother. A friend. Plum Grove Baptist Church Senior Pastor Tyshawn Gardner said the Friday shooting death of Kei’lan Allen is a community tragedy, one congregations like his are doing their best to prevent.
Kei’lan’s home in the West Tuscaloosa Washington Square neighborhood is less than a mile from Gardner’s church, and many residents in that area are attendees, he said.
Each death hits just as hard, said Gardner, who’s been with Plum Grove for more than 20 years.
“We always try to minister to those families who have these unfortunate situations,” he said. “It’s a shame that the residents do not feel safe at home.”
Allen’s family wasn’t part of his congregation, Gardner said, but the church is ready to help in any way they’re needed. Many church members, prayer groups and officers have already reached out and asked what they can do.
“It’s hard to process that your 13-year-old child, a very promising child, has been snatched away from you in an act of senseless, uncalled for violence,” said Gardner. “But this is a strong family and a strong community. The mother is very strong, and the community is rallying behind and beside (Kei’lan’s family).”
Gardner said he encourages residents to speak up and to speak out. Otherwise, there’s no chance of eradicating the violence around Tuscaloosa.
“This where the rubber meets the road,” he said. “This is a call for every person, every citizen of this community to lift their voice, raise their voice, take a stand to let these perpetrators of violence know they are not welcome.”