Preschool sends anti-violence message

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- A North Memphis preschool is begging people to stop the violence before one of their little ones gets hurt.

Perea Preschool, which is run by Church Health Center, hung a banner to send a message "don't shoot."

The school said it has had four lockdowns for shootings in the area since late last year.

In fact, the principal barely missed being shot while standing outside the school one of those times.

Alicia Norman said last November, she and a teacher almost lost their lives to gun violence right outside the school.

"They were shooting at each other right behind us. We dropped to the floor, to the ground and stayed there until it stopped. Once it stopped we crawled kind of, and when we realized it was over, we got up and ran."

It was not the the first time or the last gunfire would echo around the building where these little ones come to learn.

Tuesday, despite pouring rain, the school decided to send a message by hanging a banner outside that reads, "Don't shoot. Stray bullets kill."

"We wanted to make a statement to the community in general to have a message of nonviolence, to stop the violence," Norman said.

We asked Memphis Police to give us the number of violent crimes around Perea over the last six months.

They never gave us that information, but CyberWatch shows there have been 17 aggravated assaults and one simple assault around the school since Dec. 1.

The school does have a fence up now and sky cams that they say have helped.

Still, administrators and guardians said they know a sign can only do so much.

"The ones who are doing it do not care, and they're not thinking," Linda Matthews, a grandmother of two Perea students said.

"I'm not naive enough to think that this sign will stop this," Scott Morris, the CEO of Church Health Center, said.

But they are hoping it will make at least one person think twice about putting these lives at risk.

"If this gunfire hits a child, it could actually be your child," Matthews said. "Just think before you do that."

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