Latasha Wilks: It’s time to stop the violence

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 22, 2016

By Latasha Wilks

Special to the Salisbury Post

I am a part of the clergy here in Rowan County, a mother and a concerned citizen. My son Chad Wilks and three others were arrested recently. Chad had a few charges but the one I am speaking on today is the concealed weapon charge. He is definitely not a killer and will not be considered one of the west side shooters.

As a parent I asked myself, why was my son near a gun knowing I don’t want him near weapons? Fear from other unsolved crimes and popularity from his age group are the answers I discovered.

Back in February 2014, 20-plus people jumped on Chad. An officer happened to be near to get the boys off of him. I took Chad to the hospital. No official report was ever made by the Salisbury Police Department.

Late at night last Nov. 17, a guy pulled a gun out and pointed it to my father’s head and threatened to kill him. My son Chad witnessed this incident and was helpless because the guy threatened to blow my father’s head off.

For the last two years, a group of guys has been going by my father’s house on Lloyd Street with guns, making death threats, and walking on the property uninvited. They continue to harass my two oldest sons. I believe these issues have escalated from high school.

When I was sick one Sunday afternoon two years ago, I was at my father’s house. Two boys stopped by and walked up on my oldest son with a gun. They told me my oldest son would die that day. Immediately I prayed, and I reached out to several officers as well as detectives concerning this matter.

I spoke with the interim chief of police, Brian Stallings, but he was very busy. I left messages for Chief Stallings and Detective Todd Sides but never received calls back. I reached out to parents and they wanted to argue instead of listen.

One guy walked into my father’s kitchen when the door was unlocked and sat there to wait on my oldest son to come. He was armed and dangerous. He had about 15 more people in the front yard. Things had become so bad that they sort of took over my dad’s yard when they came in the area.

This is a group of 40-plus members who continue to get by with senseless crimes.

Just a month ago, there were seven or eight shots on the side of my father’s house and one on the front. My oldest son was chased several blocks by three of the guys claiming they would kill him.

There were about 30 bullets in the yard. The police were called to the scene. Instead of the guys getting locked up, my dad’s pit bull was taken to the dog pound. She bit the officer who ignored the signs on the front and near her doghouse.

The group would continue to go on the Fisher Street side of my dad’s house to rob, shoot, fight, bully and threaten. This kept the neighbors on Lloyd Street from seeing exactly what was going on. I reached out to many neighbors to let them know that it may appear that these people are invited but they are not.

The night that my son was arrested. He was in the basement with my father and they heard several gunshots. They went upstairs to see who it was. They noticed a bunch of people arguing, shells on the ground, and they asked people to leave. My son then asked for a ride and landed himself in trouble. He wasn’t the shooter that night. He is definitely not a west side shooter. He is a teenager who is in fear and feels a need to protect himself because of so many unsolved crimes.

While in police custody my son states that he was choked and pushed. This is now under investigation.

If the word “snitch” didn’t have so much power, maybe someone other than me would step forward.

Instead of backstabbing and throwing stones, we need a stop-the-violence movement in Rowan County. The so-called west side shooters are still out there. They are most likely laughing at the accusations because it is freeing them.

Our children need to know that the community cares. Bullying and threats are going on; we need to take it more seriously. Instead of seeing a child in the streets and getting on Facebook talking about them, let’s help by praying for them, feeding them and reaching out. We need to promote strengths and praises in our young people. Serve as a mentor, leader, tutor, volunteer or friend.

I challenge someone in the clergy or city to provide a safe place for a stop-the-violence movement. This action needs to start soon and continue forward. I pray that my son and others learn to live by faith and not fear.

Latasha Wilks is founder of Let’s Lend a Helping Hand.