'It's our problem': Durham pastor tackles gun violence by focusing on fathers, male role models

Akilah Davis Image
Tuesday, June 13, 2023
Pastor works to tackle crime in Durham
EMBED <>More Videos

The former Detroit police officer turned pastor said he believes it takes everyone to curb gun violence, but a focus on fatherless homes is key.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Jasmine Young is doing the best she can to raise her son Zaire,11, who is heading to middle school. The single mother said she is a positive role model for him, but admits it's challenging finding men to mentor him. Fortunately, she has her father and bishop.

"It gets difficult sometimes, especially since he's a young man. There are lessons I can't necessarily teach," said Young.

It's the male mentorship that Knightdale resident Jvon Williams told ABC11 he missed during his childhood. He was raised in Raleigh by a single mom. Williams turned to the streets for male role models.

SEE ALSO: Durham police investigate after male juvenile wounded in shooting

"The drug dealers, gang bangers and the swindlers. It was everybody doing the dirt," said Williams. "I was what they call a troubled youth. Made some bad decisions that landed me in prison for five and a half years."

He turned his life around after prison and vowed to be present for his three children. Even as a man, he seeks mentorship from men such as Bishop Ronald Godbee of River Church Durham.

"You should view it as our problem. If it affects the community, it affects all of us," Godbee said.

The former Detroit police officer turned pastor showed ABC11 around what will be the new location of River Church Durham once renovations are complete. He said he believes it takes everyone to curb gun violence, but a focus on fatherless homes is key.

SEE ALSO: Hillside High School graduation remembers student killed earlier this year

"This is something that stems from the home from us having expectations where there's no investment and these are the outcomes we get," said Godbee.

He is leading by example hosting men's breakfast events and increasing outreach to low-income communities by mentoring boys and men. He's opening the doors of his church to tackle the gun violence issue.

"Teaching on how a father should be or how a man should be in the home is valuable," said Young.

ABC11 is tracking crime and safety across Durham, Raleigh and in your neighborhood