Reverend calls for peace in wake of murder
By John Joyce
Published in News on July 14, 2013 1:50 AM
The Rev. Dr. Dwight "D.B" Cannon of St. James A.M.E. Zion Church on N. George Street will give the eulogy Tuesday at the funeral of Tyree Simmons, the 23-year-old man shot and killed last week on West Walnut Street. Cannon was pastor to Simmons and is a close friend of the family. He is callin for peace in the community where he says there has been too much violence already.
This was it, he said.
This was the fatal blow.
The Rev. Dr. Dwight B. Cannon spoke Wednesday more as a concerned parent than as a pastor or psychologist about the violent death of one of his flock whom, he says, was working hard to turn his life around.
Tension has been mounting on the back streets of the community since the shooting death of 23-year-old Tyree Louis Simmons, known to friends as "Jerzey," on Saturday, July 6, Cannon said.
Now the shepherd is seeking to lead the city to a cease-fire.
His message to those grieving in the streets of Goldsboro this week -- peace.
"I'm saying to his friends, if they really cared anything for Tyree, if they really cared anything for his family ... his grandmother, mother and brothers are grieving so.... Stop it," Cannon said.
The altercation that led to Simmons' death allegedly involved a local woman and the suspected shooter, now in police custody, Stevie Denardo Simmons, 41, of 610 W. Walnut St.
Cannon, a member of the Wayne County Board of Education, said the amount of negative comments about the young woman, and even the sentiments expressed out of supposed respect to the victim, have used derogatory language and are causing more harm than good.
"Facebook is swarming with negative things and those derogatory names. They think they're paying him homage by calling him the N-word and everything ... can we stop it? Can we stop it?
"Can we stop this 'I'm going to go get him (the shooter)' and 'How dare this girl,' ... calling her names and calling her out of her name -- can we stop it? I wish we could just stop it."
While the system might have its problems, Cannon said, he wants the community to let the court system do what it does and trust God to intervene where they might think the system is failing.
Cannon will give the eulogy Tuesday when his St. James A.M.E. Zion Church holds the funeral service for Simmons, a young man he said he loved like a son.
Simmons stayed with the Cannon family for a time when he needed help, Cannon said, until his own bad choices forced them to return him to the streets and the life from which he could not seem to break free.
Simmons was supposed to go to Raleigh two weeks ago with a group of men who have been incarcerated but are trying to make a change in their lives and find gainful employment.
He didn't make that meeting.
He also was receiving help with preparations for college and aspiring to go to North Carolina A&T State University.
Cannon admitted that with a checkered past and lean times when both he and Tyree's family had to levy "tough love" against Simmons, it would not have been easy for him to turn his life around, but that he was trying.
Cannon said he is not mad at the girlfriend or even the alleged shooter.
His anger and frustration is directed at the existence, as well as at the social climate that allows for the existence, of a gang culture, a drug culture, a culture of violence in the community he loves and to which he preaches love.
Preaching "at" them won't stop it, he said. Talking "at" them won't stop it. Telling them they have to love won't stop it.
"How do you love somebody who's trying to kill you? How do you love somebody who won't feed you? How do you love somebody who says they want to help you but every time you need them, they won't return your call?" he asked
Cannon said that while the public is welcome at the funeral service, Tuesday at noon at St. James A.M.E., violence is not.
"I'm asking them to stop the madness. If you're going to get mad, get M.A.D. -- make a difference," Cannon said.
"We have to start listening. Let these people who are angry talk, rather than go out and retaliate. Voice it."
On Thursday, the Goldsboro Police Department said in a statement that no requests have been made to provide any kind of security or increased presence in the community based on threats of retribution or retaliation for the murder of Tyree Simmons.
"You expect that sort of thing, and we do keep an eye on that when you have more of a gang turf or a north/south related shooting," said Sgt. Dwayne Dean, an investigator close to the case.
The nature of this case is domestic, Dean said. There are not typically in domestic cases -- and have not been in this instance -- any reported threats of retaliation.