A city church has announced a reward of at least $1,000 for anyone who identifies the person who shot and killed 10-year-old Kathina Thomas as she played outside her West Hill home Thursday night.
Victory Church Pastor Charlie Muller said the church was able to use extra funds from its bank account for the reward. The church, located on Quail Street just blocks from where Thomas was killed, also collected $500 to give to the girl’s mother, Shondell McCallister, to help with funeral costs.
Members of the church and community were asked to gather Sunday afternoon to walk the neighborhood and pray for its safety.
Muller said the church will collect money in the coming weeks to increase the reward. The church had already collected some money on Sunday and Muller said he hoped the reward would reach $2,000 to $3,000 by the end of the week. Whoever names the person who killed Thomas will be paid once the suspect is convicted.
“As it increases, I believe someone’s going to say something,” Muller said. “We have action committees all the time, but what’s being done? We’re going to take some steps to do something.”
A makeshift memorial sat outside the girl’s 445 First St. home on Friday afternoon as passers-by placed stuffed animals, balloons, candles and a poem near where she was killed.
Police have said they do not believe the girl was targeted by the killer. Instead, they think she was hit by a stray bullet fired for reasons not yet known. They are investigating and have asked anyone with information to come forward.
Kathina Thomas had attended Sheridan Preparatory Academy since the end of the 2006-07 school year after she moved to Albany with her family from Guyana. She participated in after-school programs and had sung in the school’s chorus.
“My daughter’s dead! I can’t believe she’s dead like that!” Shondell McCallister sobbed outside her apartment Friday morning. “Why did they shoot my daughter? Why not me?”
Muller said violence against children is nothing new in the West Hill and Arbor Hill neighborhoods.
“When we built our new feeding center, a 14-year-old boy was shot and killed on our steps,” he said. “It’s inner cities all across America.”
The church plans to send a mailing to all neighborhood homes that details the risks of carrying an illegal gun. Muller said he has a program in place that gives help in finding jobs and housing to anyone who surrenders a gun to the church.
“We need to open up our eyes and say ‘This street is not going to allow this stuff,’ ” he said. “I’m not one to talk. I want to do something.”
Meanwhile, several local lawmakers have announced a proposal to amend several state laws to make the penalties for violent crimes against children under 12 more severe.
“Like so many, I was shocked and saddened when learning about the tragic death of Kathina Thomas. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family during such a difficult, painful time,” Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco, R-Schenectady, said in an announcement of the proposed amendments.
“Sadly, this type of violence isn’t limited to the city of Albany — it reaches into the city of Schenectady, where there is too much violence, some of it affecting our youngest and most innocent.”
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Categories: Schenectady County