Vigil reflects on four recently killed near campus

Chance Swaim, Editor in Chief

Nearly 50 people gathered around lit candles Sunday night to remember four people who recently died in the surrounding areas of Wichita State University.

Each of them died as a result of gun violence.

The vigil took place on the southwest corner of 21st and Hillside, across the street from Fairmount Towers, where earlier this month, engineering student Rayan Ibrahim Baba was found on the ground next to a vehicle in the parking lot and later died at the hospital.

The Wichita Coalition Against Gun Violence, which hosted the vigil, aims to reduce gun violence in Wichita and statewide through education, legislation, and legal and social action.

“We want to, are trying to, and need to — in the long-term — break the cycle of violence in Wichita, and nationwide,” said Mike Poage, co-chairman of the Wichita Coalition Against Gun Violence and an English instructor at Wichita State.

The coalition began in response to a church shooting earlier this summer in Charleston, South Caroina.

“Now, with the recent shootings in Wichita and the way the legislature has been handling gun laws in Kansas, we need changes more than ever.”

Vietta Sanders, a graduate student studying social work at WSU, said putting a stop to gun violence takes more than just one person.

“It’s community,” she said, “not just the Wichita State community or the black community or the white community. It takes everybody. We need to come together to stop this. We need to break down our neighborly walls and work together. We need to talk.”

The vigil drew a crowd of nearly 50 people, all holding candles and singing in unison.

“I did not know Rayan personally,” Poage said to the crowd Sunday. “But from what I have gathered from talking to those close to him, Rayan was a good person. He was a long way from home.”

Attendees showed their respect for the fallen with several moments of silence and contemplation.

“Why are you here?” Mike Poage asked before the first moment of silence. “Who will you join? . . . What will you do with your light?”