PHOTO BY PAULA MULLER
The Rev. Annie Belmer of Zion Baptist Church holds a photo of shooting victim Leonardo Clement. She is joined by Drew Russo, executive director of Lynn Musuem/LynnArts, middle, and Pastor David Urbina of East Coast International Church.
By GAYLA CAWLEY
LYNN — A day after a double shooting in Central Square claimed one man’s life and left another man recovering in the hospital, residents gathered for a community vigil.
“This is our city and we stand here tonight to stand with those who have been impacted by violence and we stand here tonight to gather to say we’re against any violence as we move forward,” said Sen. Thomas McGee (D-Lynn). “This is a great city. We love this city and we’re not going to stand by when these random acts of violence occur in our community. It does not reflect who we are. It doesn’t reflect on what this city is about. It doesn’t reflect on the great things that are happening in the city and it doesn’t reflect on the great people that live in the city of Lynn.”
Police are investigating after two men were shot in front of the LynnArts building at 25 Exchange St. on Sunday around 3 p.m.
The community vigil was organized by Lynn Museum/LynnArts, headed by executive director Drew Russo. Residents gathered in front of the LynnArts building on Monday night to light a candle for the victims, and stand against the senseless acts of violence in the community.
Police are seeking a male shooter who left the scene. Police have not identified a suspect and no arrests have been made, authorities said.
The Essex County District Attorney’s office identified the man killed as Leonardo Clement, 46, of Lynn. Clement was taken to Union Hospital where he was pronounced dead. Another victim, a 41-year-old man was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital and is expected to survive.
Both men attended Zion Baptist Church and East Coast International Church, according to the respective pastors, Rev. Annie Belmer and Rev. David Urbina. The pastors identified the second victim as Prince Belin.
Belmer said that her last memory of the men is on Easter, when they were both dressed up and happy, at the service at Zion Baptist Church. She said Clement was legally blind and was very involved in the community. She said he was a nice, meek and humble person.
Urbina said the men attended East Coast International Church as well. They came to the church’s service on Sunday, right before going to Zion, he added.
“I remember Lenny had a very gentle spirit,” Urbina said. “He was very docile, very kind.”
Urbina said he visited Belin at the hospital on Monday, and that he was recovering well. “He’s just a very lively, very happy person,” he said.
Urbina said his heart was broken because he knew the two men who were assaulted, and struggled to find the right words to describe how he felt after he heard the news come in. His spirit was disturbed and he couldn’t believe it, he said.
“But there was also, the words of the people describing these events and these reports and the rumors, this overall sense of hopelessness, this overall sense of, well, this is just what happens in our city, and that began to disturb me even more,” Urbina said.
Russo said he felt it was important “after violence visited our doorstep to pull people from the community together in consolation for the lives that were lost.” He said it was an opportunity to stand strong against the violence, console each other, and “move forward in the work that we’re all trying so hard to do to improve and make better the quality of life in this community, and the small part that we play in this downtown neighborhood in doing that through arts and culture.”
City Councilor Peter Capano said, “these senseless tragedies do not reflect on the work that’s being done down here,” and “this is our city. We’re going to take this city back.”
“One of the things, regardless of what goes on around us, what goes on in our city, what we do not expect, what we do not look for is violence, community violence to take place in our cultural district,” Belmer said. “This is a sanctuary in our city, so one thing that we will not tolerate here in the city of Lynn, and especially in the district where our young people come so that they can learn how to sing, they can learn how to dance, they learn art, they learn music.
“We will not have that cut off because parents are afraid to bring their children here. So, one thing that we will not have, we will not tolerate, is community violence. We will not tolerate that. What we want in our city is peace and we are going to do something about it. So, you really stepped in the wrong community. You came to the wrong place, because right now something is going to be done about it. It will not go unresolved. So, we want any and everybody that’s here to take that message back, that it will not take place in our city any longer.”
Gayla Cawley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley.