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Rally to inspire youth in Newport News interrupted by nearby gunfire

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - A rally of inspiration aimed to empower a Newport News community Friday night.

It was held at the Boys and Girls Club in the Aqueduct neighborhood.

There was dancing, food, prizes and words of inspiration to the youth, but as the event was getting underway it was interrupted by gunfire as bullets blasted homes just yards away.

“It sounded like a war going on out here,” said Lillian Conner.

Her home had several bullet holes in it. Conner said she woke up from her nap, her daughter was screaming and she could hear glass shattering.

It happened at 5:30 p.m. Friday.

“I hit the ground. That's all I could do was hit the ground and crawl for my grandchildren,” said Conner.

Her grandson was eating cereal in the kitchen and there was another child nearby.

Nobody was hurt during the shooting, but it scared many people in the community.

But just yards away there was a rally being held called Against All Odds.  It was organized by Nneka Bartlett.

“I want them to walk away with empowerment,” said Bartlett.

Bartlett said she grew up in both Los Angeles and the Aqueduct neighborhood in Newport News. She is currently running for the school board.

She said when she was a child she used to live in the complex where the shots were fired Friday evening.

Bartlett said many of the children who attended the rally are used to shootings in their communities.

She said she wants to inspire them to achieve their goals and inspire them to overcome challenges they face.  Bartlett said the youth need to see they too can overcome and do whatever they want with their lives.

The event was scheduled to run from 5:30-8 p.m.