At a downtown gathering in remembrance of a slain 15-year-old, several speakers implored the youth of the city to put down their guns.
“Stop being stupid,” said Sage Goetz, a friend of Robert “Bobby” Durrum, who died early Thursday after being shot. “Learn how to use your dukes and stop picking up a freaking gun.”
At a gathering at Triangle Park, scores of people lit candles, carried posters and released balloons in memory of Bobby, who is one of three people killed by gunfire in less than a week in Lexington.
“It doesn’t have to end up in a fight. It doesn’t have to end up with guns,” said Lexington artist Dani Greene, who has been painting murals of Lexingtonians who died as a result of gun violence. “The best thing you can do is make a promise to not be violent. The bigger person walks away, dude, and makes something of themselves.”
Bobby, a freshman at Lafayette High School, was found in the street on Belmont Drive suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. A 16-year-old acquaintance who he had arranged to meet has been charged with murder and robbery. Police say a fight broke out between the two boys before the shooting.
“There’s no winners in this situation at all,” said Bobby’s mother, Leigh Ann Durrum.
“You can see he was well-liked,” she said, looking around at the crowd, many of whom were teens. “He tried to make everybody laugh.”
Dalton Christopher, a 23-year-old University of Kentucky student, said he planned the gathering as a “call to action” because he is tired of the violence.
Christopher runs a Facebook group, 859approved, to which Bobby and two other victims of recent gun violence belonged.
Leo Travers, 15, who died after a shooting in Nicholasville last week, and Christian Gomez, 19, who died after being found with a gunshot wound to the head at Woodhill Park Thursday night, were all in the group, which brings together kids who like collecting sneakers.
But Christopher said there’s a deeper purpose at work.
“Our whole goal is to make the community stronger,” he said. To that end, he organizes meet-ups for the kids, as well as service projects such as a recent shoe giveaway for the homeless.
He told the crowd to speak up if they know someone else has a gun.
“If you really love somebody, you want them to be here a year from now,” he said. “Help them stay away from the bad stuff.”
State Sen. Reggie Thomas, D-Lexington, expressed his condolences to the family and said he has filed a bill in the state legislature that would give cities like Lexington and Louisville “the opportunity to deal with this.”
“It’s becoming a sad but common occurrence in this city,” he said. “These families and these children and these cities need some relief.”