Louisville residents react to shooting: ‘We must change’

Perceived lack of action to address gun violence sparks anger, dismay in wake of shooting deaths

By: - April 11, 2023 5:50 am

Posted in the Nulu neighborhood of Louisville after a shooter who had legally purchased an assault weapon killed five people on April 10, 2023. (Kentucky Lantern photo by Liam Niemeyer)

LOUISVILLE — Just three blocks from where a lone gunman opened fire killing five people, the Rev. Dale Raines kept the large red doors of St. John United Church of Christ open to the blue sky and spring blooms as he changed the Easter greeting on the church’s sign to a more timely message.

 “WE WEEP WE PRAY WE MUST CHANGE.” 

Raines hoped the open church would provide a quiet space for whomever needed it in the Nulu neighborhood of Louisville to grieve and mourn. 

The church’s new message reflected Raines’ emotions: “I feel that grief, but also yeah, a very high level of frustration and anger,” Raines said. “We shouldn’t have to live like this. We shouldn’t have to die like this.”

The Rev. Dale Raines opened the doors of St. John United Church of Christ three blocks from the shooting. (Kentucky Lantern photo by Liam Niemeyer)

Little foot traffic was on the street. The neighborhood has become host to various eclectic, affluent shops and bars near Slugger Field, the minor league baseball team’s stadium, located next to Old National Bank, where the mass shooting took place. Some businesses along his street tend to close on Mondays, Raines said, but others had also closed down due to the shooting. 

It’s a place where tourists from out of town visit in Kentucky’s largest city, he said. It’s a place that now saw one of the worst incidents of gun violence in the city’s history. 

“Let’s be honest: these things are happening everywhere, which is part of the grief, and the frustration, and quite frankly the anger that I feel that we are the problem,” Raines said. “We keep putting people in elected offices that refuse to do anything to change the situation. And people keep dying.”

Raines’ grief and anger were echoed by other Louisvillians near where the shooting took place, devastated by the news of the deaths, angered at the perceived lack of action on gun violence and overwhelmed with the enormity of the problem. 

Eric Fuqua, a construction worker in Nulu from West Louisville. (Kentucky Lantern photo by Liam Niemeyer)

“I just don’t understand why this type of stuff is going on, and so much of it going on. It’s just getting so close to home,” said Eric Fuqua, a construction worker in Nulu from West Louisville. “They’re going to have to do something about something I would think.” 

Fuqua said he’s unsure what can ultimately be done about mass shootings, mentioning how politicians often “claim they have the answer to our problems.” 

“But it doesn’t seem like it’s working to me.” 

Across the street from the church in Nulu, 24-year-old Ryan Petiprin helps manage a shop and got a message from his boss asking if he wanted to come in, saying a lot of the stores in the area were closed. 

Ryan Petiprin, 24, helps manage a shop in Nulu. (Kentucky Lantern photo by Liam Niemeyer)

“It was definitely very nerve wracking,” Petiprin said. “Very disheartening for Louisville going in the future.” 

Petiprin sees what has happened recently in Tennessee following protests calling for gun control measures — including two Democratic Tennessee lawmakers expelled from the state legislature — and worries what would happen in Kentucky. 

 “If you look at what’s going on in Tennessee, like that can’t happen here,” he said. “That’s really awful, and it sets a bad precedent. So I think that complete gun reform should happen.”

Joe Spencer, a member of Louisville’s Complete Streets Coalition, walking through Nulu has a more direct opinion on the cause of mass shootings: the access to guns, particularly high-powered firearms. 

“It’s just a sad day.” Spencer said. “As long as there’s more guns, there’s going to be more of this sort of thing.”

The stark divide over how to address mass shootings and gun violence, seen sharply in the Kentucky legislature, could even be heard on a bench by the downtown waterfront park along the Ohio River. 

“Gun control is not the answer. I don’t know if the guy had mental issues or whatever that they could track, but I don’t think gun control is it — it’s just damn people,” said Lamont Tarrence, sitting next to her cousin, Tina Turner. 

The park with large green lawns and a walking bridge to southern Indiana adjoins the baseball stadium.

“I disagree with that. I think it is gun control. I think guns are ending up in the wrong people’s hands,” Turner said. “I think it needs to be some type of implementation on who has a gun, how they’re getting them, how they’re obtaining these guns.” 

Both of them agreed the news of the shooting had them distraught. 

“I thought it was only a matter of time until it’s Louisville’s turn,” Tarrence said. “I hate to say this — it’s the days that we live in now.” 

Meka Brown, who just moved to Louisville, thought of her young daughter when the news of the shooting broke. Her daughter ran around the playground at the waterfront park, wearing a t-shirt with the rapper Notorious B.I.G. on the front.

“You understand how serious it is because you see the real time ramifications for those type of situations,” Brown said. “I don’t want this to be her reality nor mine. My hope is that it doesn’t have to get any more serious than it already is.”

A downtown scene. (Kentucky Lantern photo by Liam Niemeyer)

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Liam Niemeyer
Liam Niemeyer

Liam covers government and policy in Kentucky and its impacts throughout the Commonwealth for the Kentucky Lantern. He most recently spent four years reporting award-winning stories for WKMS Public Radio in Murray.

Kentucky Lantern is part of States Newsroom, the nation’s largest state-focused nonprofit news organization.

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