Dollar General Shootings All Too Familiar For Wichita Dad

Dec 6, 2012

On November 30 two men were gunned down at the Dollar General Store near 13th and Oliver in Wichita. The alleged 19-year-old shooter is in custody but the motive for murders has yet to be determined.

It's a situation all too familiar to educator and pastor Riccardo Harris whose own 19-year-old son was killed by another Wichita teen. Harris talked about his new book "From Misery to Motivation: A Father’s Story About the Death of His Son."

"Somewhere along the way our sense of community has vanished, the sense of community that I remember doesn’t exist any longer," says Harris.

He says when he was growing up they were taught to have respect for elders and those who respected them.

"It is shameful because many people are missing out on powerful relationships," says Harris. "These priceless interactions between adults and young people that helped to shape their lives."

On January 5, 2008, an 18-year-old teen didn’t like way Harris’ son Robert Ridge glanced at him while their vehicles were stopped at a traffic light in Wichita. Ridge was shot by the driver and later died at a hospital from two gunshot wounds.

Through his pain and grief, Harris determined he would not let his son die in vain. In his new book Harris writes young African-American men are killing one another at an alarming rate, and senseless acts of violence impact young men and women of all nationalities.

"It is my desire to use the death of my son as a platform to teach character and values to young people of all ages and nationalities," he says.

Harris takes his message to schools, colleges and other venues across the country encouraging audiences to take up what he calls "The Character Challenge," agreeing to three different things: being respectful, responsible and resilient.

"If I can make a positive impact on one person, one family, it’s worth it," says Harris.