Candlelight Vigil to End Gun Violence Held in Stockton

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STOCKTON --

Stockton community organizers, leaders and those directly impacted by violence stood together by candlelight at the Central United Methodist Church on Monday night.

According to the Stockton Police Department, there have been 44 homicides so far this year, 30 of those were gun related. Community organizers banded together as part of nationwide tribute to put a stop to some of that gun violence.

Each and every person who attended had been directly affected by gun violence in Stockton. They stood together, with candles and a flicker of hope that their peaceful gathering would help bring violence to an end.

Shattered glass, bullet holes, flashing lights and yellow crime tape -- another scene of a gang-related shooting in Stockton on Pershing Avenue and Oak Street that critically wounded two men who were inside a white pickup truck.

“This is preventable,” Samuel Nunez, the executive director for Fathers and Families of San Joaquin told FOX40.

Another scene Nunez and Tariq Muhammad, with Fathers and Families of San Joaqin, said doesn’t need to happen anymore.

“Lost family to gun violence, friends to gun violence, and just my overall state of mind,” Muhammad, a youth organizer explained.

"Deaths from gun violence are preventable,” Nunez said. "If we have the morale courage to actually take a stand against it."

He told FOX40, he’s seen violence like Monday’s shooting far too many times.

“I personally have been a victim of gun violence. When I was 18 years old, I was shot with a 12-gauge shotgun at point blank range, resulting in permanent disabilities,” he said.

As for Muhammad, he has lived his entire 26 years in the city. As 2015 draws to a close, he has lost four friends to separate shootings.

"My state of mind wasn’t at peace because of the culture of gun violence that, you know, I grew up around,” Muhammad said.

While both men said they’re all too familiar with the violence that sometimes engulfs Stockton both have hope.

“Reinvestment back into youth programming and youth activities,” Muhammad said.

"Nothing stops a bullet like a job,” Nunez said. "That it can’t be just left to law enforcement to stop and prevent gun violence. That this is a community, it needs a community-wide response to it,” Nunez said.

But more than that, they have ideas for peace and ideas for action.

As for the people who shot Nunez more than 20 years ago, he said one of them is actually a pastor in the Central Valley now.