MILWAUKEE -- A double murder and suicide is the kind of violence that would prompt many to run from a neighborhood, but church leaders moved in as police tape went up. They said now is the perfect time to open their doors for the first time.
Leaders at Chosen Generation Outreach Ministry closed on the property days before the double homicide/suicide on December 16th near 24th and Auer Avenue, and they're not wasting any time in their effort to improve the neighborhood.
"We're so new here, we don't even have a sign-up," Pastor Ingrid Durr-Russell said, as church leaders decorated for Christmas on Wednesday, December 20th.
Pastor Durr-Russell said being inside the church is a dream come true.
"Glad to be here, and glad to be in this area in this community," Durr-Russell said.
The church sits in one of Milwaukee's poorest, most troubled neighborhoods. As congregants helped with the big move on Saturday, December 16th, police lined the block outside.
"Everything was taped off and then we started asking questions about what happened," Durr-Russell said.
At a home across the street, two women were murdered. One of their boyfriends, the shooter, took his own life. In the other direction, a memorial for a life lost to violence. Pastor Durr-Russell said Wednesday she wasn't aware of the circumstances behind its placement.
"We said we're not going to run from this neighborhood. We're going to run to the neighborhood," Durr-Russell said.
Pastor Durr-Russell said church leaders are hitting the ground running. They plan to offer food, clothing and training, with an ultimate goal of launching mentoring and tutoring services for children in the neighborhood.
"Any time we have an opportunity, we want to let them know there is hope," Durr-Russell said.
On Sunday, December 24th, Christmas Eve, a large Christmas celebration is planned at the church. There will be a free meal and presents for kids. All are welcome -- and church leaders are looking for volunteers.