In an apartment complex less than a mile from the church, a police shooting rocked the community.
Keith Lamont Scott was shot and killed by police who were looking for another man named in a warrant on Sept. 20.
Scott was a father of seven. His family said that he was unarmed and sitting in his car reading a book as he waited for his son to return from school, CNN reports. A woman reported to be his daughter livestreamed the aftermath of the shooting on the internet, claiming Scott was disabled, didn’t have a gun, and was afraid of the officers.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney disputed the account. He said Scott left his car with a gun. He said officers repeatedly told Scott to drop his gun before an officer shot him.
Scott, Chief Putney, and the officer who shot Scott are all black.
The police chief said officers could not find a book at the scene of the shooting.
“It's time to change the narrative because I can tell you from the facts that the story's a little bit different as to how it's been portrayed so far, especially through social media,” Chief Putney said.
In reaction to the shooting, hundreds of protesters rallied in Charlotte. Some threw rocks at police and set fires. Some blocked Interstate 85 and set a fire in the middle of the highway, blocking traffic for miles.
Sixteen officers were injured in the protests, Putney said. At least seven people were hospitalized with minor injuries and five others were arrested.
The mayor of Charlotte, Jennifer Roberts, has asked faith leaders to work for healing in the community.
At St. Thomas Aquinas Church, Fr. Winslow planned to speak before the Wednesday evening Mass.
“We’re probably 500 yards from the shooting. This is our neighborhood,” he told CNA.
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Father Winslow said he was aware of the different experiences of different people in the neighborhood.
“The African-American community is going to feel different than the university kids across the street, versus all the other different people in the area,” he said.
The priest said he could not make a judgment on the shooting, knowing what is only in the news.
“Obviously I would feel a great deal of compassion for the family who lost someone that they love. I would also feel a great deal of compassion for all of those families who have people in law enforcement who were wounded as a result of the violence last night,” he said.
“I think that many who have not experienced prejudice and bigotry would be surprised by the experience of those who experience it regularly,” the priest continued. “Those who experience it regularly might be surprised that there are many who are not bigoted in their thoughts.”
He said he thought the majority of churchgoers at his diverse parish are not bigoted in their thinking.