DURHAM, N.C. — A Durham playwright is speaking out after the fatal shooting of a 5-year-old in the city this month.
Khloe Fennell was killed July 5 and her 15-year-old babysitter was wounded in the shooting.
Friends and family attended Fennell’s funeral Friday in Durham. Wendell Tabb, who wrote a play to bring awareness about gun violence, also was there.
Fennell’s death is one of many reasons Tabb is taking his play on tour.
“I had to stand there for a while and just look at her and just think about the life that she didn’t have to live and it was taken away through gun violence and it was heartbreaking,” Tabb said.
Tabb, a former Durham Hillside High School drama director, wrote “State of Urgency” to show the toll that gun violence can take on a child’s mental health.
The play has received national attention. In August, Tabb plans to take the production to other counties, including Nash, Duplin, Vance and Franklin.
Students also plan to perform at Lower Manhattan Arts Academy in New York City.
“It’s a play that deals with gun violence but also deals with social issues that sometimes lead to gun violence, and it was very important for me to get the voices of the young people,” Tabb said.
Gun deaths among children and teens across the country increased by 50% between 2019 and 2021, according to a Pew Research Center study.
“That’s why we are doing the play, to let people know that these are human beings, and these children are very important to us,” Tabb said. “When they see the play, we want them to think about a call for action.”