‘Our community is feeling the pain’: Birmingham turns to prayer 10 days into search for abducted 3-year-old
(BIRMINGHAM, Ala.) — Ten days into the search for an abducted 3-year-old girl, the Birmingham community is turning to prayer.
Over 100 people came together Saturday for a prayer service at Saint James AME Church — just steps away from where 3-year-old Kamille “Cupcake” McKinney disappeared, said pastor Alvelyn Sanders Swafford.
“Our community is feeling the pain,” she told ABC News.
Sanders Swafford said she was surprised to see Kamille’s mother at the service and said the look on her face is one she won’t forget — “pain and agony.”
Kamille was playing with other children at an outdoor birthday party on Oct. 12 when she vanished. An Amber Alert was issued but police still haven’t found her.
The goal of Saturday’s service was “to remain hopeful, to remain faithful, to remain encouraged,” said Sanders Swafford. “Everyone’s praying at home at their respective churches, synagogues, mosques, but [this let us] come together as one human family to pray for a 3-year-old child who is missing.”
Among those at the service were Montgomery, Alabama, residents who drove 100 miles to lend their support.
“That confirmed to me that this story has reached beyond the Birmingham metro area,” Sanders Swafford said. “And it inspired my soul to know that people outside of our community care.”
The service ended by gathering around Kamille’s mother and praying with her, said Sanders Swafford. The pastor said the church wants to be a resource for Kamille’s family and urges them to reach out for “anything they may need.”
Another Birmingham congregation, from the More Than Conquerors Faith Church, jumped in to help this weekend, too, spending Sunday afternoon selling cupcakes for “Cupcake.”
Between donations and the treats — sold at $3 each in honor of the 3-year-old — the church raised $3,000, senior Pastor Steve Green told ABC News. The money will be donated to a Crime Stoppers reward, he said.
Kamille’s disappearance “really just touched the community in a serious way. Everybody wants to do what they can,” Green said. “I just think the whole community right now is just saddened by it, but at the same time becoming proactive. What can we do? Getting involved and praying, asking the Lord to let her be found and let her be found safely.”
Police on Friday released surveillance video from the night Kamille was abducted in hopes that the public can identify a man who might help with the case.
The grainy footage shows two small children, including one believed to be Kamille, playing near a Birmingham housing area.
“There are two males that appear in the video where the two children are playing,” Birmingham Police Chief Patrick Smith said Friday. “The first male will walk completely by. He looks at them. And it’s the second male that comes up and engages the children.”
That second man is a suspect, said Smith, adding that investigators believe they know who that man is. Police are looking to identify and speak with the first male in the video.
“The first man who walked by in the video, he may have pertinent information that will help us,” Smith said. “If he saw something that night that may be critical to the investigation.”
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