INDIANAPOLIS — The mentor of an 18-year-old killed in an Indianapolis mass murder said the teen had just started to believe in his own success and his own dreams.
Kareem Hines still can't believe Elijah Childs is dead.
"My heart just sank. Wow," said Kareem Hines, founder of New Boy Mentoring.
Hearing about the shooting death of 18-year-old Elijah Childs broke Hines' heart. He was one of six people, including an unborn baby, shot and killed at a home on Adams Street early Sunday morning.
"I am getting chills right now just talking about it, because I just said, 'Not him, not him.' He was one that if he would have made it, he would pull other young men with him."
New Boy Mentoring is designed to help redirect young people away from crime and violence. Hines shared a promotional video used to recruit troubled young people. New Boy activities include a "guns down, gloves up" boxing program that starts with intense conversations about staying out of trouble.
"We call it our leadership circle," said Hines. "He was always one to raise his hand and had positive news to share."
Hines told 13News Elijah was as different as his choice of hair color. The teenager even redirected his rap music dreams, adhering to advice about non-violent lyrics. Many of the mentors at New Boy automatically navigated toward Elijah because of his personality.
Hines matches his mentors with students based on caseloads and interests. He himself stayed connected with Elijah and even noticed the impact the young music lover was having on others in the program. Despite his troubled past and juvenile record, Elijah wanted to be a leader. He was one of the students referred to New Boy by the Marion County Juvenile Detention Court and never put up resistance to good advice.
"He was just a different kind of kid, and you could see it right away," said Hines. "I talked to him a few times about making positive music and not fall in line with popular, and he listened."
Hines' concerns are also echoed by local clergy across the city who met on Zoom Monday afternoon. The meeting included about 20 different ministers and pastors from different denominations. Organizers hope to invite even more religious leaders as they continue their meetings virtually and, eventually, in person.
"We will be inviting clergy and community stakeholders because we know we cannot do this by ourselves," pastor James Jackson said.
Now, after starting 2021 with the tragic loss of a family, just like Elijah's mentor, the clergy prays that the deadly violence stops.
Hines also talked about ways his organization can help keep Elijah's memory alive. He hopes to start the Elijah Childs Character Award to give to students in his program who show progress and success.