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Father fighting neighborhood crime shot to death weeks after son killed

Terrence Favors Denson made it his mission to help guide young people away from crime, gangs and guns, until he was shot to death in Atlanta on Sept. 8.

ATLANTA — An Atlanta father who’d been fighting to reduce violent crime in his Mechanicsville community was himself a victim of violent crime on Sept. 8.

Terence Favors Denson, 36, was shot outside his neighborhood bar, at Pryor St., SW, and Ralph David Abernathy Blvd., SW. and died before help could arrive.

Atlanta police have not yet identified any suspects.

He’d been working to reduce crime in Mechanicsville and surrounding neighborhoods by trying to guide young people away from guns and gangs-- especially after what happened this past June to his own son.

“I saw a father that was determined,” said family friend Tekesia Shields, “I saw a father that took retaliation from a different point and turn his pain into purpose, as we will all say.”

It was in June when his 15-year-old son, Terence, a star student at Atlanta’s Midtown High School, was shot to death.

Police later arrested a 19 year old who, they said, was angry with Terence, possibly over a girl.

Shields said the elder Terence struck back his own way, adding, “Instead of going back and saying that I’m going to hurt somebody, he was going to the community saying, I want to save someone and I’m going to save them in any way I can.”

Denson started an organization to try to save young people from violence--from the life of crime he led when he was young.

Iresha Ridley, his cousin, said his mission consumed him.

“He didn’t want to repeat the cycle,” she explained, “he wanted to break the cycle, he wanted to build the community up. He didn’t want them to experience the things that he experienced. He had a late start, he wanted young people to get a fresh start. He was trying to stop kids from picking up guns, being there to deal with their trauma in different ways. Because he did go through some troubles as a youth, and so young people would listen to him from his experience.”

In August, when someone opened fire at a softball game in Mechanicsville, killing one person and wounding five more, it was Denson who ran in and helped save the life of one of the wounded, a six-year-old girl.

“I watched his transformation,” said a lifelong friend, Pastor Radonus Bryan of New International Kingdom Ministry, “from being a troubled youth in urban Atlanta, to transforming to being more of an activist, a person that was actually making a change.”

Which is why family and friends are determined to pick up Terence’s mission and make it their own.

“We have to learn to come together,” Bryan said, “and create what’s called a sense of unity, even in these urban communities. That’s what he was doing with book bag giveaways, giving away food, he was just trying to help the community.”

“And all through the hurt that he had,” Shields said, “he wanted to bring love. Sometimes we can hide pain with smiles, and he hid a lot of pain. But through it all, he still made a difference.”

There will be holding a vigil and balloon release in Denson’s honor Saturday at 7:00 p.m., at the basketball courts of Rawson-Washington Park, 351 Connally St., SE, Atlanta. Family and friends are asking people to bring white or blue balloons.

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