WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WGHP) — The number of homicides in Winston-Salem has nearly doubled since last year.

As they continue to happen, it’s affecting more than just the families of the victims, but the people fighting to end gun violence as well.

Local activists are ready for the killings to end and pushing for change to begin. Frankie Gist, the founder of Hope Dealers Outreach, is the latest to feel the hurt of losing someone to gun violence.

“As an activist, I’m so upset. But as a friend, I am so hurt and sad that my friend is no longer here with us,” Gist said.

Gist lost his friend, 20-year-old Saveyon Taylor, after he was shot during a small gathering at the Sedgefield Apartments in Winston Salem. Investigators say Taylor was shot along with two others after an argument led to a shooting.

Taylor’s killing marks the 16th homicide the city has seen so far.

“When someone dies, everyone looks to me for the words for the people. I’m at a place where I have no words because the more and more and more that I turn around, these killings are becoming so close to home,” Gist said.

In Winston-Salem, the homicide rate has nearly doubled this year. Data show there have already been 17 killings as of April 28 compared to the nine homicides during the same period a year ago.

Gist said with all the heartache and the pain, he looks to God and his friend, Sheriff Bobby Kimbrough for advice.

Gist said Taylor was more than a friend. He was like a brother he grew to love and work closely with towards bettering his life.

“I’ve been helping him out and doing what I can for him. Being a mentor and as someone that he can always talk to, it hurts me that he helped me fight against something that he died from,” Gist said.

Gist said the city’s local organizations aiming to stop gun violence need to come together and team up as a united front to end the crimes.

“No more talking. Just do it….it’s time to put the work in,” Gist said.