Mayor Andy Berke has agreed to establish a Witness Protection and Victim Assistance Fund to make resources available to protect witnesses from retaliation, according to a text message from Bishop Kevin Adams and Brainerd High School assistant principal Dr. Charles Mitchell.
They both asked the mayor to establish the fund in response to the death of Bianca Horton, a 26-year-old mother of four who was shot to death early Wednesday morning.
Horton was expected to testify in the murder trial of Cortez Sims, a noted gang member, charged in the Jan. 1, 2015 shooting that wounded two people, left 20-year-old Talitha Bowman dead and Horton's 1-year-old daughter, Zoey Duncan, paralyzed.
"This cycle of violence is unacceptable," stated an email signed by Adams and Mitchell. "Bianca was standing up to stop violence. It's clear both the city, and us the community, must all do more to protect and stand with community members like her. Someone willing to stand up to violence needs protection and we must all find ways to help."
Adams and Mitchell said they will work with "anyone willing to help better coordinate protection and support for witnesses willing to stand up to violence."