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North Memphis pastor hopes for permanent change after recent crimes near church

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A North Memphis pastor is praying for help and said he's sick of dealing with crime on the street where his church is located, including a recent deadly shooting on Crockett St.

Law enforcement said they've taken steps and hope to curb the violence, but many people said the efforts don't seem to be working.

"Yes, it is frustrating," Pastor John Lee said. "It keeps getting targeted, it keeps getting targeted. I don't know what is the death count that they need to get before they give us some support. Do it need to be five, ten, I don't know what that number is. But for me as a pastor, one person getting hurt is enough for me to start screaming."

Lee said he's more than sick of dealing with violence near his church, Holy Vision Temple.

He's been screaming for a while and sent emails dating back to 2014 to Memphis Police and city leaders, where he documented problems on the street.

"Six years of crime, prostitution, drugs," he said. "One of the reverends that go to the church, on his way to bible study, he had a young girl with him, and they started shooting down the street, and he dove to protect the girl. He got shot in the leg."

All the crime, alleged drug dealings and shootings are happening just a block away from an elementary school.

"This is ground zero for smokey city violence and drug activity," Lee said.

That was a ground zero that county and city leaders claimed they had squashed. A year and a half ago, District Attorney Amy Weirich announced several homes had been declared a public nuisance after more than 8,000 calls were made within a half a mile radius of the homes in two years. There were 14 calls specifically to the two homes.

"Streets like this with homes like this will not be tolerated," Weirich said at the time.

When WREG was back in the neighborhood Wednesday, it looked like there were still plenty of people hanging around these homes.

After this latest wave of violence, Pastor Lee still holds out for permanent change.

"I need some help," he said.

WREG checked in with the district attorney's office and was told they're checking with police to assess the situation on Crockett, which could help them determine how to proceed. They said they might also move up their next court date, which currently is Nov. 12.

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