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'Pray for those families': Louisville community leaders condemn 'senseless' acts of mass violence

Rev. Charles Elliott and others gathered inside King Solomon Missionary Baptist Church on Monday for a small prayer service dedicated to families in Buffalo, NY.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — In the wake of the tragedy in Buffalo, New York, community leaders in Louisville are sending their prayers while also calling for unity from Capitol Hill to individual neighborhoods.

At King Solomon Missionary Baptist Church on Monday, Rev. Charles Elliott and other community leaders led a small prayer service dedicated to families affected by the mass shooting.

"Louisville, ministers, politicians: Let's pray for those families, because what happened there can happen right here," Rev. Elliott said.

Rev. Elliott condemned the 'senseless' act, while also expressing concern over the shooting at a Southern California church and recent gun violence within the Louisville Metro -- including a case in Shively, where a man is accused of shooting and killing his wife and harming his own child. 

Retired LMPD officer and candidate for Metro Council Ray Barker, known in the community as "Sir Friendly C," says his heart is heavy. In his life, he's helped thousands of children through anti-violence programs.

"We're dealing with the spirit of hate and evil in this world," Barker said. "For my community, which is predominantly Black, I want to say to you, if you see something strange, report it. Say something. Don't keep this information with yourself so we can all be safe."

The Buffalo shooting suspect's history has raised questions over his access to guns, after authorities say he made threats toward his high school a year prior. They say he was evaluated then, but wasn't charged with a crime.

In the U.S, a person can be prohibited from owning a gun if a judge determines they're battling mental illness or if they've been checked into a mental institution.

In Kentucky, that information goes from circuit court to Kentucky State Police, then to the FBI -- where it's put into a National Instant Criminal Background Check System database.

Meanwhile, an Extreme Risk Law can give law enforcement and others the ability to work with courts to temporarily remove firearms from people who pose a danger to themselves or others. Currently, Kentucky doesn't have this kind of law.

At King Solomon Missionary Baptist Church on Monday, Louisville community leaders didn't get into specifics on gun laws. Instead, they chose to spread a message of support, and unity, in a time of grief.

"We need to teach each other to love and our leaders need to be an example of this," Barker said.

Contact reporter Isaiah Kim-Martinez at IKimMartin@whas11.com or on Facebook or Twitter 

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