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Community center to combat teen gun violence in Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A new youth community center is coming to Indianapolis to help combat teen gun violence.

The project comes as the city witnessed six shootings in less than 24 hours over the weekend.

“Once we expose them to (more opportunities), you know, I feel the doors will be open for them,” said the Rev. Malachi Walker, founder of Young Men Inc., a summer program for teen boys to help keep them off the streets. “Someone who’s been affected by gun violence, the first thing that comes to my mind is are we still doing what we need to do?”

Walker, a pastor of Great Commission Church of God, says his church bought land across from the church to build the community center. He says the center will include computer labs, a gym, a food pantry and office space for other community members and businesses. He says the center will help double their numbers of teens joining the summer program.

“When the camp is over with in the summer, (parents) start calling and they say, ‘Is there anything else you’re doing?’ And, yeah, we have our mentoring, but if you want to be part of our summer camp, you get on the list right now.”

Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, so far this year, has recorded 121 nonfatal shootings with 130 victims. Data shows at least six teenagers have already died by gun violence.

IMPD’ Officer ‘s William Young, a public information officer, said, “I think it’s more heart-wrenching whenever you have to go out to these things, or you hear these things across the radio, that a child or teenager has been shot, basically senselessly. It takes a village to raise children. So we are imploring all parents, if you can just keep an eye on your children, help the police department help you.”

Walker says funding for the community center is underway. He says they are looking to raise $2.5 million. To support the organization, go to its website.