The third homicide in less than a year at an Augusta apartment complex has some people turning to the power of prayer to draw violence out of the area.
At a rally at the River Glen Apartments on East Boundary on Friday evening, a handful of people grew into a crowd of 30 when the Rev. Angela Harden invited bystanders to prayer over a loudspeaker.
“We’re here to arrest the spirit that’s lurking in our community,” said Harden, the senior pastor of New Destiny Triumph Ministries in Hephzibah.
Three people have been killed at River Glen since May. On Feb. 5, 27-year-old Truemaine Davon Jones was discovered dead from a gunshot wound in a parking lot at the apartments. Soweto Kamau Moody, 18, was arrested Wednesday evening in connection with the killing.
Jones was the second homicide victim at the complex this year. Christopher Gary Smith, 24, is a suspect in the Jan. 14 death of 24-year-old Doniel Jamal Hicks. Police are still searching for Smith.
Authorities are also trying to find the person who shot and killed Angelo Daggett on May 14 at the complex.
Led by several ministers from area churches and outreach programs, the group Friday held signs with messages of non-violence and raised their voices in prayer.
“God lives here in River Glen. He is here. His presence is here,” Harden said to begin the rally.
Harden grew up on Aiken Street a few blocks behind River Glen and went to school at nearby Hornsby Elementary School. The increase in violence in her childhood neighborhood is a “spiritual issue,” she said.
“Prayer changes things,” Harden said. “With God, we can do all things.”
The group plans to hold weekly prayer rallies at River Glen. Harden would like to take prayer to other communities, and she invites more spiritual leaders to join the effort.
The Rev. Bobby Hankerson, the pastor of Hammond Grove Word Power Ministry in North Augusta, said prayer rallies and citizen activism can curb violence and drug use.
As co-founder of the Weed and Seed Initiative in the Barton Village neighborhood, he saw a community transform. But he said the Augusta area needs to step up again after recent violence and killings of law enforcement officers.
“We have to get the community involved. Neighborhoods and citizens have to join in,” Hankerson said.
Rosana Goodloe, a member of New Destiny Triumph Ministries, prayed that all children can live in their homes without fear. She wanted the rally to be a sign of hope for River Glen residents, including her 5-year-old granddaughter.
“We feel we need to be here to speak blessings to this community to let them know they are worth something,” Goodloe said. “Whoever the killers are, we want them to know they have no power here.”