ANDERSON — A call to end gun violence is what the Madison County community is hoping to accomplish.
“We have to start making some of these young people feel that opportunities are out there and that they can succeed without guns, or without committing crimes,” Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings said. “A facility like this is one of the venues that can make that happen. It worked for me.”
On Saturday, the Madison County Prosecutor’s Office partnered with Westside Boxing and Fitness to host ‘Guns Down and Gloves Up.’
“It's to help them see that they do have value and that they don’t belong on the streets,” Owner Dr. Thomas Tijerina said.
Tijerina says the gym has been open for nearly 13 years and serves as a place for people who love boxing and want to get better.
The event comes as police say six people ranging from 14-years-old to 21-years-old were injured in a shooting in Anderson last month.
“Boxing keeps me out of trouble,” Cole Casey said.
Cole is 17-years-old and has been boxing for two years. He says the sport teaches him discipline and gives him self-confidence.
“Find something you love to do that will keep you out of the streets,” Cole said.
Cole told WRTV he knew some of the people that were involved in the shooting.
“I had an ankle monitor when I first started boxing. I caught a felony,” Javiel Casey said.
Javiel is also a member at Westside Boxing and Fitness. He says he knows first-hand how gun violence can impact someone’s life.
“I was shooting at a party, and I have been shot before, so I know both sides of gun violence,” Javiel said.
He says that was his life before he stepped inside the gym.
“I got shot in the leg when I was 17-years-old, so growing up I thought I had to keep a gun on me. When I got a little older, I used that gun, but when I got into this gym, I put the gun down.”
Now Javiel hopes that other people also put the guns down and the gloves on.
“Find something to do. You don’t want to be killed young or in prison,” Javiel said.