‘Come together’

Published 8:56 pm Monday, July 2, 2012

Sandra Gray, right, aunt of the late Kendrick Dortch, embraces Kendrick’s brother Derrick Dortch and his wife Fran Monday night during a candlelight vigil held in Kendrick’s honor at his former place of business on Ridgeley Street.

Unity was the message behind Sandra Gray’s address Monday night during a candlelight vigil at the office building where her nephew was gunned down just over a week ago.

Participants in Monday's vigil joined hands to demonstrate community-wide unity.

As candles flickered near a sign proclaiming, “We love you Kenny,” around 50 mourners joined hands as a sign they understood Gray’s message.

“We have to come together,” she said through tears. “We have to pray for the families of the boys who did this to Kenny.”

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Kenny is Kendrick Lamon Dortch, the nephew Gray raised as a son, and “the families of those boys” includes the family of 16-year-old De’Anthony Dailey, charged as the shooter in last week’s apparent robbery turned homicide. Twenty-one-year-old Damien Jones was also arrested on robbery charges linked to the incident. Dailey has been held without bond since his arrest Thursday, and Jones was held on $300,000 bond.

Gray commended  the Atmore Police Department for making quick arrests in her nephew’s case but said more has to be done to curb the violence in Atmore.

“(The Atmore Police Department) has been on this thing since day one,” she said. “But if there’s something going on in your neighborhood and you know it’s not right, pick up the phone and call the police. Let them know there is something going on because just by doing that you could save a life. Don’t just keep it to yourself, because Kendrick could still be here.”

Amid cheers of “yes” and “amen,” Gray said now is the time for action.

“From this day on, we’re going to do something about the crime in Atmore,” she said. “Not because we want to stir up something, but because we need justice.”

Gray also introduced Kendrick’s family members, including his brother Derrick and his wife Fran.

“These are his immediate family,” she said. “But we all are family. God made us as one big family. No matter if we’re black, white, green or purple. We’re all his children and we’re supposed to love each other.”

Prior to a group prayer and hymns, Gray thanked those in attendance at Monday’s vigil.

“I thank God for all of you,” Gray told the crowd. “It means a lot that you’ve come out to show your support and just because you don’t live next door to me doesn’t mean you’re not my neighbor. We’re all neighbors. When I hurt, you hurt and by your presence here today I know that your hearts are heavy with us.”

Despite her loss, Gray reiterated the need to reach out to the families of those responsible for her nephew’s death. “My prayers go out to the children that did this to Kenny,” she said. “Because they have mothers that are hurting, and they have family, too.”

Gray summed up her message simply Monday night with four words.

“Kenny was my baby.”

A candlelight vigil for Kendrick Lamon Dortch was held Monday night at his former business where he was found dead last week.