Vigil for the victims of Sunday's mass shooting in Akron

More than 100 people gathered at the Arlington Church of God on Wednesday evening for a vigil for residents and families affected by Sunday's mass murder.

More: At least 1 dead and 24 injured in mass shooting in Akron at Kelly Avenue and 8th Avenue

Shortly after midnight Sunday, a birthday party at the corner of Kelly and 9th Avenues escalated into violence after 27 people were shot. One victim, LaTeris Cook, 27, of Akron, died.

The church hosted the vigil while the Victim Assistance Program and Summit County ADM Board joined forces to assist the city in its support.

The vigil began with prayers and a song.

During the event, Captain Mike Miller of the Akron Police Department spoke and emphasized the need to stop gun violence.

“We as police renew our commitment every day, before and after this tragedy, to reduce gun violence,” Miller said. “We have work to do.”

Miller described the need to build relationships between youth and police officers. Whether in schools or at community events, Miller said department leadership encourages officers to “have simple conversations.”

“My colleagues in the police force share this passion to give back and look for opportunities to build bridges to have these conversations with young people,” Miller said. “I am committed to doing this work, the police force is committed to doing this work, and we will continue to work with our community partners to do everything we can to limit and reduce gun violence.”

Judi Hill, president of the Akron NAACP, said she was “tired of being tired.”

“I learned of this tragedy on Sunday,” Hill said. “I immediately sat down in my seat and said, 'Lord have mercy,' and immediately began to grieve because I knew people were grieving. The senseless death of a young man and so many others injured.”

Robert Crosby, president and CEO of Emerge Counseling Ministries, brought some members of the organization to show their support for the community and encouraged people seeking mental health help to contact him.

Dr. Donald Lichi, vice president of Emerge Counseling, said the organization spent the day conducting mental health support training with Akron police. “We have a special unit for trauma patients,” Lichi said. “We want to give victims hope for the future; we want them to know what is right for them.”

Former Ward 5 Councilwoman Tara Weems said it was stupid of someone to crash a birthday party. “This neighborhood is traumatized, my neighbors are traumatized. They don't even want to sit on the porch if they don't see me sitting on the porch, and I don't want that for them,” Weems said. She agrees that the issue of gun violence needs to be addressed and dealt with appropriately.

In addition to the vigil, there will be a Greater Akron Prays event at 6 p.m. Thursday at Burning Bush Church, 131 S. High St. There will also be a community reflection space hosted by the East Akron Neighborhood Development Corporation from 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday.