DES MOINES, Iowa - Des Moines police say witnesses in the city's latest homicide are uncooperative, but the victim's pastor says the community needs to step up.
"Because, even though I'm [now a pastor], that's where I came from; you know, Mississippi, I was running in the gang, got initiated," said Pastor Michael Cameron, Sr. of Revival Center Church of God & Christ.
Cameron says his past gang affiliations offer him a unique opportunity to reach out to the young people in Des Moines who are caught up in the same dangerous behavior.
"I deal with them, and talk to them - I try to come to them, and let them know there's a better way," he said. "Because I've been there and done that."
Cameron says the victim in Des Moines' 13th homicide - 20-year-old Dabryan Smith - who was shot in a drive-by on Thanksgiving day in the parking lot of the Git-n-Go gas station on Euclid Avenue, was a "respectful" young man. Cameron says he is so close to Smith's family, he practically considers them his own.
"At this point in time, really haven't had too much time to grieve because this was a shock," he said.
So when police told Channel 13 Friday witnesses of the drive-by shooting aren't being as cooperative as they'd like, Cameron says he wanted to speak out, hoping to help others gain to the courage to do the same.
"People are not talking, and because they're not talking, it's hard for somebody to find something," he said. "But this violence has to stop, it has to stop!"
Cameron says he is speaking with some people who may have information that could lead to an arrest.
"There is unwillingness to speak up. But fortunately, there are some who saw," he said. "And I'm in the midst of trying to deal with them myself, to see what we can come up with."