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Into the hurt zone, looking to heal

on March 29, 2010

Kevin Mccular was set to lead his second Friday night street outreach in as many weeks.

The daylight was dimming into blues and grays, and the apartment complex was set on edge by a shooting two nights before.

But then Muccular’s cell phone buzzed with the kind of call he never wants to get.

“I just got word that a close friend of the family has been shot, has been killed,” Muccular said in hurried tone, his voice lacking its usual heaviness. “I’m going to have to go, but these guys will still go in.”

Muccular, an agent with the city’s Office of Neighborhood Safety, works to quell violence in the community for a living. But Friday, it was personal: His friend, whom Muccular identified only as a 36-year-old man, was killed and another man was wounded in a drive-by shooting in the 300 block of South Ninth Street.

Muccular left to console family, but left three other men to carry on his work at the Crescent Park apartment complex.

Beginning March 19, when Muccular led about a dozen volunteers on a prayer and peace outreach mission in the Pullman Point apartment complex in South Richmond, the towering anti-violence worker has been on a mission to reduce violence by going to neighborhoods most touched by it. The work will continue, Muccular said.

On Friday, with Muccular gone to console friends and family, Albert Featherstone and three other men traipsed into Crescent Park with a few T-shirts and plenty of prayer and patience.

Two nights before, a drive-by riddled one of the units with bullets. The holes, freshly stuccoed, shone prominently in the early evening light as Featherstone knocked on the door underneath. A man emerged, and he chatted and prayed for a few minutes.

A gaggle of children played with a football a few paces away.

For Featherstone, a mere visit is an invaluable act in Richmond’s most crime-plagued neighborhoods.

“I come out because I’m concerned about future generations,” Featherstone said. “I’m concerned about the generation now. I’m concerned about the elders. And I’m also concerned about in the next 10 to 15 years, when I’m in my 70s, am I going to be able to walk the streets.”

As they were the week before, the outreach workers were generally well-received by residents.

A man who would identify himself only as “Jermaine” said he appreciated the visitors and their intentions, but that the neighborhood needed much more to ward off gun violence, which he said was usually committed by people who came from outside the complex.

“It’s scary, you know, I got kids of my own,” he said. “I always got to be on alert out here.”

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Richmond Confidential is an online news service produced by the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism for, and about, the people of Richmond, California. Our goal is to produce professional and engaging journalism that is useful for the citizens of the city.

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