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'Put down your gun': Faith leaders call for week of peace after 9-year-old girl killed by crossfire

As a community remembers Brandoniya Bennett, some are calling for a week of peace and prayer.

DALLAS — It was a night of emotions and a call for change.

A large crowd gathered Friday night at a prayer vigil in East Dallas to remember the life of 9-year-old Brandoniya Bennett. 

Faith leaders and families joined voices as they called for a week of peace and prayer in light of senseless violence that has left Bennett and other innocent people dead.

Bennett was shot and killed while sitting on a sofa. 

Police say an amateur rapper, 19-year-old Tyrese Simmons, was upset over lyrics from another artist's song. He went to the complex armed with a gun with revenge on his mind, they say. 

RELATED: Man trying to shoot into rival rapper’s apartment kills 9-year-old girl instead

Investigators say the teen fired several shots. But the bullet hit an unintended target, Bennett.

The pain is still too fresh for the little girl’s grieving family. 

Relatives were visibly emotional during the vigil. Community members shared hugs, wiped away tears and comforted the family as faith leaders called for a week of peace.

"There is strength when we stand together and declare that for the next seven days, there shall be no violence, but there shall be peace," said Pastor James Armstrong III.

Organizers are asking residents across the city of Dallas to avoid conflict and violence between Aug.16 through Aug. 22. They want people to focus on peace, prayer and uplifting neighbors.

Credit: WFAA
Community members release balloons as they mourn the death of 9-year-old Brandoniya Bennett.

"We’re calling every member of the community that owns a gun to put down your gun for the next seven days," Armstrong said.

Nearly 140 people have been killed in Dallas so far this year. 

With those deaths in mind, community members attending the vigil chanted “enough is enough.”

Seven days of peace is a start. It may not be the answer. However, those left grieving say it is an answer.

Throughout the Week of Prayer, community groups will host prayer events at locations across the city. 

The meetings will take place on:

  • Aug. 19 at Glendale Park; 1515 E. Ledbetter Dr., Dallas
  • August 20 at White Rock Lake Park;: 8300 Garland Rd., Dallas
  • August 22 at Martin Luther King Jr. Park; 2901 Pennsylvania Ave., Dallas

Each event will begin at 7 p.m.

A GoFundMe has been set up to assist the Bennett family.

RELATED: Residents question safety at Dallas apartment complex following shooting death of 9-year-old girl

RELATED: 9-year-old girl killed in gang shooting crossfire, police say

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