Challenge to SW Fresno residents

FRESNO, Calif.

21-year-old Delmon Newsome was shot multiple times Wednesday afternoon walking by Saint Rest Baptist church. Sunday the lead pastor challenged his congregation.

The head pastor at Saint Rest said people cannot hide from issues plaguing this neighborhood like theft, violence and murder especially when it ends up at the doorstep of their house of worship.

The number of candles and stuffed animals at this memorial has grown outside Saint Rest Baptist since Wednesday. "For a situation to happen like this right in front of a church is very devastating," said congregant Jazmine Smith.

Worshippers like Smith took time before services to remember 21-year-old Delmon Newsome.

Fresno police investigators said he was shot and killed walking outside this church Wednesday afternoon. No one has been arrested but detectives believe the motive is gang related.

"I did not know him but I am very sympathetic towards anyone who loses a life to this type of violence. Because it doesn't make any sense," Smith said.

"This is not the first senseless act of violence in this neighborhood. Yet what makes this occurrence different is that it is now at the doorstep of the house of our God," said Pastor Shane Scott.

Newsome was a former gang-member trying to turn his life around. Pastor Scott said he was in school and regularly attended services at Saint Rest.

During Scott's Sunday sermon church-goers were challenged to end the violence. "You can no longer remain silent. The devil himself has crossed the line," Scott said to his congregants. "It's an elephant in the room. And the elephant started out as a baby but now the elephant is full grown."

Scott said the biggest challenge is the economy. "I think it's been proven that when people don't have money crime increases."

Monday evening the community is invited to share their concerns and ideas to improve the neighborhood.

Worshippers said they are behind their leader. "Right at home. Right at home. There's nothing more we can do except get the community to come together you know," Poly Wilkerson said.

"And just pray. Prayer is the key to all of our problems. If more people would pray we would have less violence," Rita Grier said.

The meeting starts Monday evening at 6. Afterwards Scott plans he plans to take everyone's ideas to city leaders and the police chief.

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