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Wichita police, advocates appeal to community week after nightclub shooting

Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 11:43 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - An appeal to the community by Wichita police and community leaders comes a week after the deadly shooting at the Enigma Club & Lounge in Old Town, in downtown Wichita. Police continue their search for the suspected gunman, Keshawn Dawson. Police say Dawson fired the shots that killed 34-year-old Preston Spencer and wounded five others.

Wichita police are also still working another shooting in Old Town that happened eight years ago this month. In the 2013 shooting, six people were shot and a man named Kolby Hopkins was killed. It happened on the south edge of Old Town on Sept. 22, 2013. Police said it started as a fight as dozens of people were leaving as a bar closed. Shooting started in the case that, to this day, remains unsolved. A suspect was never publicly identified.

On Wednesday, Sept. 15, Eyewitness News spoke with two advocates in the community, trying to address the violence.

“We can’t keep sweeping everything under the carpet; we’ve got to look at it at face value and say we have an issue, and our issue is our young people are dying quicker than we are,” Rise Up For Youth Co-Founder David Gilkey said.

Gilkey knows how hard the work is.

“I’ve lost 23 young men due to gang violence and violence since I’ve been doing this work,” he said.

But the Rise Up For Youth co-founder said he’s seen the difference a high school mentorship program has made in hundreds of other young people.

“Make sure our students go off to post-secondary education and make healthy lifestyle choices,” he said. “So we have a staff that really works hard to make sure our young people are engaged.”

It’s a similar mission for local pastor Odell Harris, Jr., trying to keep young people out of violence.

“If I can save one young man or one young woman from going down the wrong street in life, then my life is not in vain, said Harris, a member of the Wichita Citizen’s Review Board and a Heavenly Gates Mortuary partner.

Harris is trying to keep teens and young adults in Wichita from ending up at the Heavenly Gate Mortuary where he works.

“It’s hard to sit at this particular table and to talk to grieving mothers, to talk to grieving fathers, siblings, to tell them that it’s going to be alright when in all reality, it is not going to be alright for a long time,” he said.

Harris said people need to come forward when they know what happens in a case.

“There’s less and less people telling what is going on,” he said.

“You can’t tell me people don’t know where this gentleman is that killed Mr. Spencer, You can’t tell me. Someone is hiding this man and in hiding him they’re not bringing justice forward to his family,” Harris said.

Harris and Gilkey say this is everyone’s fight, not just theirs of that of Wichita’s police department.

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