COLUMBIA, S.C. — It's been eight years since Roberta McKelvin lost her son Nathaniel.
"A Friday night that I’ll never forget," McKelvin said. "He was on his best friend's porch and the cowards came into our community shooting and killed him.”
Since then, McKelvin has been speaking out on his behalf, so others never have to share the same story.
She joined roughly 25 people praying for change in Columbia's North Main Street area Friday Night.
Among those to speak was Deputy Police Chief Melron Kelly.
"We’ve had higher numbers than we’d like of violence in our community and this is our stance against that," Kelly said.
Police are leaning on technology like Shot Spotter, which identifies gun shots, to find criminals more easily and partnering with area law enforcement to help reduce crime, according to Kelly.
Councilmembers and faith leaders also gathered in a show of support.
"The only people that can fix the problem in our community is us," Bruce Trezevant, the event organizer, said. "God has given each person here, or each person in this community something that they can do to help this community be a better place to live, work and play.”
As she stood with others, a small white candle lit, and a poster of the son she lost leaning against her legs, McKelvin prayed the vigil would help move the community a step closer to change.
"We have to pray, we have to get out, we’ve got to get involved," she said.