NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — For a man who often provides words of comfort, Bishop Joseph Walker III is still struggling to find his own. "For me as a leader, it just threw me off. It just ripped my heart right out of my chest," said Walker.
The lead pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church got a call from Rasheed Walker's family, shortly after he was shot and killed along Dr. D.B. Todd Jr Blvd late Saturday night. Investigators believe Robert Smith is their suspect. He's currently still armed and on the run.
"This is one of those moments where I, as a pastor, was at a loss for words. Speaking to the mother, speaking to the father, the night that it happened because I was wrestling with my own anger and my own grief," he said.
Rasheed Walker, 31, was a longtime member of his congregation. Though the two aren't related, they shared more than just a common last name.
"Not only as a relationship in terms of a pastor but also a friendship. Rasheed [is] just really a great great person," said Bishop Walker.
Rasheed worked for 10 years, inspiring special education students at Cora Howe School. He also ran his own basketball league -- the Nashville Pro-Am -- and three times a year he would donate care packages to the Vanderbilt Trauma Center. "He used that as a catalyst to really encourage other people about their relationship with God and getting their lives together," said Walker. "So he just represents everything that was right with young men and particularly young black men in our community."
Bishop Walker sees this as a wake-up call that more has to be done to address violence in Nashville.
"He represented everything right in our community, and what happened to him represented everything wrong with our community," he said.
Walker wants to see city leaders invest more resources into violence de-escalation and after school programs. "We all can play a role, so that the next kid who comes along and believes in Nashville, believes in investing in our community, is not cut down by another kid who nobody loved on, nobody told him he had a greater purpose in his life," said Bishop Walker.
So in addition to words of comfort, much like Rasheed, Bishop Walker is choosing to act too. "It is important for all of us to be actively engaged every single day in providing alternatives for our young people," he said.
The family is still finalizing funeral arrangements, but Bishop Walker says once they are solidified, Mt. Zion Baptist Church will carry the service live on their Facebook page.