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Prayer vigil to be held Thursday following eight-year-old’s murder at Galleria

Hoover City Councilman Derrick Murphy on Tuesday announced that he will host a prayer vigil in the wake of the tragic shooting at the Riverchase Galleria on Friday, July 3.

The shooting resulted in the death of eight-year-old Royta Giles, Jr., as well as injuries to three other bystanders. One suspect has been taken into custody and charged, and law enforcement officials have asked the public for assistance in identifying additional persons of interest.

Members of Giles’ family will reportedly join Murphy for his prayer vigil on Thursday, July 9, at 6:30 p.m. CT in the upper, far left parking lot of the Macy’s at the Galleria.

An advisory from Murphy outlined that local clergy, city and county officials, and members of the Galleria management team will also be in attendance.

Murphy noted that the purpose of the vigil will be two-fold.

“First, I feel it is imperative that we pray for Royta’s family and for all of the victims injured in this senseless shooting,” he said in a statement.

“Not only will we pray for them, but for everyone who was at the mall that day and experienced trauma in some way,” Murphy continued. “It is also important that we pray for our first responders and our community as a whole. We are all hurting from this situation. Now is the time to pray and support each other, knowing we will get through this together.”

The councilman then explained his second purpose.

“We must also address the issue of gun violence in our region. Our young people have too many easy avenues through which they can obtain guns today. That, coupled with their inability or unwillingness to solve disagreements effectively is leading to the loss of too many lives. There must be a change, it must start now, and it must start with the heart,” he concluded.

Anyone with information on the shooting or potential suspects should contact the Hoover Police Department or, to remain anonymous, call Metro Crime Stoppers at 205-254-7777.

‘You’re killing your own race’

Kesha Layfield, Giles’ grandmother, addressed the media this week.

“I hear, ‘Black Lives Matter. Black Lives Matter.’ How does it matter when you’re killing your own race?” she remarked.

“[W]hen you think it’s racism going on, you’re out here protesting, you’re out here marching for that,” Layfield added. “But what about him? He doesn’t have a voice.”

Per Alabama Media Group, Reverend David Miller of Birmingham’s Chosen Ministries also spoke this week about Giles’ death. Miller is a police officer in Midfield, as well as the Giles family’s pastor.

“Our hearts all went out because of what happened to George Floyd. The whole world went crazy, standing up for the brutality of George Floyd and how he was taken,” Miller reportedly said. “Everybody marched, everybody rioted, everybody tore up everything, and we understand that.”

“But [Giles’] life matters, too,” Miller stressed, “This baby boy will never, ever see the age of George Floyd, and yet we want to make it known that a change has to happen now. Right now. Everybody wants to be on TV, everybody wants to get publicity for rioting, but nobody wants to stand up when our own takes our own. We are here to say enough is enough.”

“What happened to the baby was wrong. It’s not going to end today. This is going to be a movement,” he added. “This baby boy right here, this prince among kings, we’re going to scream his name in Jesus’ name …”

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn