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West Side Community Leaders Continuing Efforts To Curb Violence

Reported by: Send eMail Kera Mashek
Reported: Jul. 14, 2014 10:47 PM EDT

West Side Violence
Eyewitness News Photo

Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia

Charleston Police still looking for a person of interest in connection to a west side shooting over the weekend, which left 22-year-old Branda Basham dead.

Here's what's happening now:

Police say Marlon "Ice" Dixon has warrants out for dealing heroin, and is also wanted for questioning in connection to Basham's murder. The case is the first deadly violence on the west side in almost three months.

Following a string of shootings in the spring, the west side organized a series of meetings, and two prayer walks with the theme "Guns Down, Hands Up" in prayer, but those events have waned over the last several weeks.

While we aren't seeing a big public presence, leaders of that movement insist they are still working hard every day to help end west side violence, and this weekend's murder could actually continue driving them forward.

"We do have some motivation. It's just sad it's taken tragdies for us to be motivated," said Deanna McKinney.

Deanna McKinney is still mourning the loss of her teenage son, Tymel, who was shot to death on her family's front porch back on April 23rd. But since he died, she's pushed her own grief aside, focusing on how to bring the community together to stop violence on Charleston's west side.

"These young people need it. They need something to do," McKinney said.

The family of this weekend's murder victim, Branda Basham, are planning her funeral..and too upset to be interviewed. But they say they know Basham would've taken advantage of any community outreach programs to get her away from drugs, and the wrong crowd. While her murder is heartbreaking to many on the west side, it's also even more motivation to make sure people like Basham have that second chance.

"It arrests your attention that with all of our efforts, we still have some challenges. But we can't allow these things to discourage us because we know we're making progress," said Rev. Matthew Watts of Grace Bible Church.

In fact, Rev. Watts says new groups are coming together all the time.

"There are some efforts to work with the juvenile justice system, and since those kids are high-risk for being involved in violence, there's renewed commitment to working with them, and those are things that've happened here recently. So we're encouraged by the interest, by the growing support for this west side community," said Rev. Watts.

"If we don't take care of each other, what are we really doing, you know? We have to stand with each other. We have to fight for each other. We have to conquer. We have to bring back unity. We have to stnad up and do what's right," said McKinney.

And McKinney applies that to Branda Basham's murder, insisting anyone who knows how police can find Marlon Dixon, or anyone else connected to the crime, needs to come forward so Basham's family can see justice done.

Deanna McKinney has organized a women's group that meets the last Friday of each month at Abundant Life Ministries as an outlet for ladies to lean on each other, and Rev. Watts is continuing work on outreach programs to connect young adults with education and job training resources. Anyone interested can call 343-HOPE.

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