BAKER, LA (WAFB) - A black wreath now hangs on the door of the Baker Civic Club. Friday night teenagers returned to the scene of a tragedy that has shaken a city to its core. It's where things veered so incredibly off course exactly two weeks ago when 16-year-old Nakeydran Williams allegedly opened fire during a party. Four teens were hit, three later died.
The Youth Violence Prevention Summit was organized by Dr. Maria Shantell Williams in the hopes of getting valuable insight into the root of teen violence.
"Usually when events like this happen, tragedies like this happen in our communities, the first thing that happens is adults come together of course and attempt to talk about solutions. However a major important piece is missing: the voice of the youth," Williams said.
Williams reached out to students at the three schools attended by the victims; Baker, Zachary and Scotlandville High. Eight decided to take part in the panel discussion. None of the eight were at the party on March 28, but many knew the victims. The decision to hold the event at the Baker Civic Club was deliberate.
"We didn't want this to be an event where the people would disconnect from what happened. We wanted it at the same location to where emotionally, mentally it would definitely register with those who attend tonight," Williams said.
"It's a little emotional because at school people are still sad about it and I'm right here where it all happened," said Scotlandville sophomore Amber Brown.
Fellow sophomore Kyla Robinson echoed Brown's sentiment.
"It's kinda overwhelming. It's a funny feeling to know that three people were actually killed here, but we're dealing with it," she said.
Members of the audience lobbed a variety of tough questions at the sometimes-emotional panel. A former police and probation officer asked if peer pressure in today's culture escalates problems that start outside of school.
A Scotlandville teacher asked if the parents of the panel members sat them down after the shootings for a discussion about what happened.
Another audience member asked what high school students can do to help prevent this type of violence.
Some panelists said parents need to be more involved in their children's lives, while others said it's up to the student to stand up and lead among peers.
They don't claim to have all the answers, but those in attendance hope this is just the beginning of a very long discussion.
"This event focuses on the voices of our youth, getting their feedback. How do we prevent things like this from happening? What pieces are missing in terms of at school, in our community, at home? What's missing? How can we put the pieces together as a community?" Williams said.