LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Hundreds flocked to King's Funeral Home on Highway 14 to pay their respects to Anthony "Toodie" Batiste ... shot to death at the young age of 26. Many here, young people who knew Batiste -- some of whom went to Barbe High School with him when he was a football and track star.
Following the graveside service, close friends and family gathered at a local church hall.
Cousins Crystal Lee and Alicia Batiste say such violence must stop.
"If the violence doesn't stop, somebody's always going to die. That's all I have to say. That was my cousin. That was my best friend," said Alicia.
Crystal Batiste Lee, also a cousin, agrees.
"The violence has to stop," she said. "We don't want anybody else morning like we are. Because he didn't have to go that way."
Meanwhile, two members of local churches were taping messages they plan to put on Facebook and distribute however they can to get community members together to stop the violence. They say a change of culture is what's needed.
Said Paul Pettefer, City Church, "When the brokenness of our lives takes over, it ends in tragedy. There's a different story that can be told. We want to tell that different story about what happens when God's love changes us."
Pastor Braylon Harris, Mt. Olive Baptist Church added, "The violence is kind of like a storm. It's a raging wave that comes across from a very terrible place, kind of like a hurricane or whatever the case might be. But there's a bulkhead. There's a levee that we can put in place and that bulkhead and levee is called love. But building a levee and building a bulkhead is very difficult. You build it one sandbag at a time."
"The key to stopping the violence is a transformed culture that the brokenness that tears so many down and so many lives with tears can be transformed. God's power can do that," he said.
They hope others will join in their efforts to change those who might resort to violence so that no more young lives are cut short so senselessly.