WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Before shell casings fell on Rich Avenue in Winston-Salem on Monday, before bullets shattered windows and punctured car doors, before one of those bullets hit and killed 19-year-old Ladawn Morgan; a man 60 years her elder was in his driveway reading his Bible.
“I was reading the book of Samuel, Second Samuel,” 79-year-old Alexander Barber said.
Barber was sitting in his Cadillac, about a block away from the home targeted in the shooting, to read while getting some sun.
“I didn’t see anything,” he said.
Barber told FOX8 he heard five shots while he sat with the Bible in his lap.
“The fifth shot, I felt a stinging right here,” Barber said, pointing to his right cheek. “Immediately I knew I’d been hit.”
Barber said he felt his cheek, and when he brought his hand back down, it was covered in blood.
“I guess I was so nervous, I tried to call 911, but I didn’t get a response,” he said. “I must have called 811, or 711, I don’t know what I called.”
Meanwhile, a neighbor across the street had called 911. Barber says he sat still in his car, as the pages of the Bible soaked up the droplets of blood coming from his wound.
“It’s bloody, there’s blood all over the Bible,” he said.
In the following minutes, paramedics arrived along with a large police presence. Still unaware that Morgan had also been shot, he was loaded in an ambulance and taken to the hospital.
“It didn’t hurt very bad,” Barber said. “It was like a bee sting.”
He learned of Morgan’s death while in the hospital, where he stayed for more than 24 hours. At his home on Wednesday, he reflected on the incident and the current state of his neighborhood.
“People shooting all the time, we call the police all the time,” he said. “A number of professional people lived over here, but now it’s nothing but Section 8 and drug dealing.”
Of the younger generation responsible for much of the violence in the city, he said as a Christian, “it’s our duty to try to help them, but I don’t even, I don’t know where to start.”
He said that children are raised not knowing what’s right and wrong, leading to a lack of respect for human life.
“Mothers don’t know where their kids are and don’t care where they are,” he added. “Some of these kids are out here ‘til one or two o’clock in the morning running up and down the street.”
Of the shooter, Barber said he believes “that everybody needs to pay for what they do.”
As for his brush with death, he said, “I consider myself blessed to be here. That’s all I can say.”
Police have yet to make an arrest in the case. Morgan’s death marked the fourth homicide in the city of Winston-Salem in 2017.